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N 

'HE SOUL 



LIBRAR Y 
ST. MICHAELS COLLEGE 



Barlg Cburcb Classics 

TERTULLIAN 

ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 

AND ON 
THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 



TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH 

BY 

T. HERBERT BINDLEY, D.D. 

HECTOR OF HEDENHAM ; 

SOMETIME PRINCIPAL OF CODRINGTON COLLEGE AND ARCHDEACON OF BARBADOS 
EXAMINING CHAPLAIN TO THE LORD BISHOP 



LONDON 

SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE 
NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, W.C. J 43, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.G. 

BRIGHTON : 129, NORTH STREET 
NEW YORK: E. S. GORHAM 
1914 



THE INSTITUTE CF NFtt.'FVH STUOiS 

10 ELMSLEY HLACE 
TORONTO 6, CANADA, 

OCT 15 1931 

G70 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

I LIFE OF TERTULLIAN ..... vii 

II THE KARTHAGINIAN SCHOOL OF APOLOGISTS . viii 

III THE CREED OF THE NORTH AFRICAN CHURCH . X 

iv TERTULLIAN'S STYLE AND LATINITY x 

I ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL J 3 

. . 33 



!KTED >N Of CAT 



GENERAL INDEX 



ACADEMY, 18, 45 

Achaia, 84 

aeons, 44, 80 f., 82 

yEsculapius, 21 

African Church, 84 f. 

animatio, 44 

Antagonism between Christianity 

and Paganism, vii 
Antitheses of Marcion, 74 
Antoninus, 74 
Apelles, 43 f., 75, 80, 86 

- , " Revelations " of, 43, 76 
Apologists, Alexandrian, ix 

- , Karthaginian, viii 
Apology, 13, 23, 25 
Apostles, 60 
Athanasius, ix 
Aristotle, 45 

Athens, 45 
Augustine, 18 
s, 42 



Baptism, Christian, 60 

- , Mithraic, 89 f. 

- , a spiritual resurrection, 80 
Bright, Dr. W., 92 

Cainites, 81 

Catechumens, 91 

Catholic Church, 74 

Cebes, 89 

Ceres, 21 

Church, one and primitive, 61 

Churches apostolic, 61, 78 f., 84 f. 

- , apostolical, discipline in, 94 
- , reproved, 71 f. 

- , origins of, 78 f. 
Christian truth, Pagan testimonies 

to, 16 

Christians made, not born, 18 
Chrysippus, 13, 21 
Cicero, 27 
Circumcision, 80 
Cleanthes, 21 

Clement of Alex., ix, 47, 91 
- of Rome, 78 
contesseratio, 61 



Continence, 90 
Corinth, 84 

Cumont's Mithraism, 90 
Curtii, 25 

Daemons, heathen gods, ix 

David, 37 

dementia, 23 

Demiurge, 44 

Devil, rivalry of, 89 f. 

DE PR/ESCRIP. H^;R., viii, 33 ff. 

De res. earn., 23 

DE TESTIMONIO ANIM^:, viii, 13 ff. 

Docetae, 80 

doctor, 38 

Ebion, 50 f., 80 f. 

Ebionites, 51 

Eleutherus, 74 

Ennius, 13 

Ephesus, 84 

Epicurus, 23 

Epicuraeans, 44 

Episcopal foundation, heretical 

lack of, 78 f. 

" Error" of Churches, 72 f. 
Eucharist, Holy, 91 
44 
>, 44 
6,64 



Gaian heresy, 81 

Geta, Hosidius, 89 

Gnostics, 67, 80, 85, 90 

God, invoked as One, 19 

Gods, heathen, identical with 

demons, ix 
Greek Heroes, 25 

Harris, Dr. Rendel, 89 

Hegesippus, 95 

Heracleitus, 44 

Heresies equipped by philosophy, 

44 

, evils of, 41, 75 

, a kind of idolatry, 91 

, of late origin, 82 f. 

, necessity for, 35, 75 
Heresy, definition of, 42 



GENERAL INDEX 



Heretics' manner of life, 91 ff. 

, not Christians, 57 

-, treatment of Scriptures, 57 ff. 

Hermes, 27 

Hermogenes, 39, 44, 76, 81 
Hilary, viii 
Homer, 13 
Homerocentones, 89 
Hosidius Geta, 89 
Hymenseus, 39 

Isis, 21 

Jerome, vi, 85, 91 

Jerusalem, 45 

John the Baptist, 46, 84 

ohn the Evangelist, 84 f. 

udas, 60 

udgement, Day of, 22 

uno, 21 

ustin Martyr, ix 

uvenal, v 

King, C. W., Gnostics, 90 
Knowling, Dr., 35 

Lardner, 88 
Leucian Acts, 85 
Lightfoot, 64 
Livy, 90 
Lucanus, 44 

Malum, 22 

Malus, 22 

Marcion, 44, 74 f. , 80 ff. , 86, 88, 91 

Marcionites, 65, 73 

Matthias, 60 

Matter, eternity of, 44, 81 

Medea, 89 

Mercury, 27 

Minerva, 21 

Minor Orders, 92 

Minucius Felix, 13 f., 16 

Mithras, 90 

Montanists, viii 

Mysteries, heathen, 89 f. 

Nicolaitans, 81 
Nicolas, 8 1 
Nigidius, 76 
Numa Pompilius, 90 

obstinatio, 23 
Octavius, 13 



Origen, ix 
Ophites, 8 1 

Pagan mysteries, viii 
Paraclete, 48 
Paul, Martyrdom of, 84 
Peter, the Rock, 63 

, Martyrdom of, 84 

Philetus, 39 

Philippi, 84 

Philumena, 43, 75 

Phygelus, 39 

Plato, 23 

Pleroma, 44, 82 

Polycarp, 78 

Porch, 1 8, 45 

Praxeas, 96 

Prcescriptio, 33 

Prescription, 56 ff 

"presumption," 23 

Puritanism in the early Church, viii 

Pythagoras, 23 

Readers, 38, 92 
Reguli, 25 
Resurrection body, ix 

of the flesh, 80 

, spiritual, 80 

Rock, Christ, 63 

, St. Peter, 63 

Rule of Faith, ix, 53 f. 
Roman clergy, laxity of, vii 
Rome, 84 

Sacraments, imitated, 89 
Sadducees, 80 
' ' Sancta satictis," 9 1 
Satan, 21 
Saturn, 21 
Saul, 37 

" Scriptum est" 46 
Scriptures, heretics' appeal to, 
disallowed, 59 

, heretical rejection of, 57 

, mutilations of, 58, 87 f. 

, perversions of, 57, 87 f. 

Serpent, 81 

Simon Magus, 51, 81 

Socrates, ix 

Solomon, 38 * 

, Porch of, 45 



INDEX OF TEXTS 



Sophia, 82 

Soul, a new witness, 17 

, corporeality of, ix 

, naturally Christian, 13, 18 

, testimony of, ijff. 

Spirit, Holy, 72 

Tertullian, creed of, x 

, irony of, xi, 95 

, life of, vii 

, style of, x 

, vocabulary of, xi 



Thales, 13 

" Trinity of Man," 44 

Valentinians, 73 

Valentinus, 44, 74 f., 80 ff., 86 ff. 

Vergil, 13, 89 

Vincent of Lerins, viii, xi, 40, 46 

Virginity, 90 

Widow, 38 

Zeno, 21, 44 

, Porch of, 1 8, 45 



TEXTS QUOTED OR REFERRED TO IN TEXT 
AND NOTES 



Deuteronomy xix. 15 . 
i Samuel xiii. 14 . . 

xvi. 7 

xviii. 7 ff. . . . . 
I Kings iii. 12 ... 

iv. 29 

xi. 4 ff 

Psalm cix. 8 .... 

cxi. 10 

Proverbs ix. 10 . . . 
Isaiah xl. 15 . . . . 
Jeremiah xvi. 17 . . 

xxxii. 19 .... 
4 Esdras viii. 20 . . . 
Wisdom i. i . . . . 
Matthew iii. 12 . . . 

v- 15 



v :.'7 
vn. 6 

vii. 7 
vii. 15 
vii. 16 

x. 3 
x. c . 



69, 
46, 
35> 



X. 22 

x. 24 . 
x. 27 . 
xi. 2 
xi. 27 . 
xiii. II . 
xiii. 37 ff. 



64 

II 



64 Matthew xv. 13 .... 39 

37 xv. 14 55 

38 xv. 24 48 

37 xvi. 14 ff. 46 

38 xvi. 18 63 

38 xvii. if.. . . . 

38 xviii. 15 .... 

60 xviii. 16 .... 

94 xxii. 23 80 

94 xxiv. 4, II, 24 . . . 35, 40 

47 xxiv. 24 95 

38 xxvi. 24 75 

38 xxviii. 19 f. . . . . 48, 60 

38 Mark i. 9 ff. 64 

46 iii. 14 63 

39 iv. 34 6 3 

70 xiv. 21 75 

71 Luke vi. 20 51 

91 vi. 40 82 

48 ix. 28 ff. 64 

40 xi. 5 51 

76 xi. 9 46 

51 xii. 18 46 

48 xiii. 30 39 

38 xv. 8 ....... 51 

82 xvi. 29 * 47 

69 xviii. 2 ff 52 

46 xviii. 42 54 

62 xix. 12 ff. 69 

63 John v. 39 47 

77 vi. 60 ff. 39 



INDEX OF TEXTS 



John vi. 67 39 

x. 23 45 

xiii. 25 64 

xiv. 26 72 

xvi. 13 f. . . . . .48, 64 

xvi 24 . . . . . * . 48 

xvi. 30 39 

xix. 26 64 

Acts i. 20 60 

a. iff. 65 

"i. 2 45 

v - 12 45 

viii. gff. 81 

xiii. 22 38 

xvi. 3 67 

xviii. 8ff. 51 

xx. 24 f. . . . . . . 35 

xxiii. 8 80 

Romans i. 8 72 

xi. 17 f. 28 

xv. 14 72 

xvi. 19 72 

1 Corinthians i. 10 . . . 42, 70 

i. 27 . 43 

iii. if. 71 

iii. ii 64 

"i. 19 43 

viii. 2 71 

viii. 6 19 

viii. 10 37 

ix. 20 ft 67 

x. 20 f. vii 

xi. i8f 41 

xi. 19 . . .35, 40, 75, 88 f. 

XV. 12 . 1 80 

xvi. 19 71 

2 Corinthians v. 10 . . . . 94 

vi. I4ff. 45 

xi. 2 95 

xi. 14 '43 

xii. 2 ff. 07 

xiii. i 64 

Galatians i. 6 71 

i- 8 43, 73 

i. 18 ff. 66 



Galatians ii. 9 66 

iii. i 71 

iv. 9 81 

v. 2 80 

v. 7 71 

v. 20 42 

vi. 6 91 

vi. 16 86 

Ephesians i. 15 72 

ii. 20 64 

iv. 14 39 

vi. 12 88, 90 

Philippians i. 3 ff. . . . . 72 

Colossians i. 4 ff. . . . . 72 

ii. 8 45 

1 Thessalonians i. 3 ff. . . 72 
v. 21 41 

2 Thessalonians i. 3 f. . . 72 

1 Timothy i. 4 . . . . 45, 80 

i. 18 68 

iii. 2 90 

iii. 6 92 

iv. i f. 35, 40, 43 

iv. 3 80 

v. 9 38 

vi. 4 57 

vi. 20 68 

2 Timothy i. 14 68 

i. 15 39 

ii. 2 69 

ii. 17 39 

ii. 17, 23 45 

ii. 18 80 

ii. 19 39 

iv. 3 43 

vi. 13 f. 68 

Titus i. 6 90 

iii. 9 45 

iii. 10 42, 57 

1 Peter ii. 22 38 

2 Peter ii. i 35, 40 

I John i. 19 85 

". 19 39 

iv. 13 81 

Revelation ii. 14 . . . . 81 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 



LIFE OF TERTULLIAN 

QUINTUS SEPTIMIUS FLORENS TERTULLIANUS was 
born of heathen parentage at Karthage in the middle 
of the second century, and was educated as a lawyer 
and rhetorician in that " nursery of advocates." 
Some portion of his life was spent in Rome, and 
Eusebius' statement that he was intimately versed 
in Roman Law is amply justified by his writings, 
which bristle with legal phraseology, and often 
display the acuteness of a special pleader making 
the most of his brief. 2 

His conversion has been variously dated between 
185 and 196. He was ordained presbyter, and was 
married but childless. His fervid African tempera- 
ment, not guiltless of impatience (which he bewails, 
de patientia, i), made him an enthusiastic and 
eloquent champion of whatever cause he took up. 
He wrote fluently both in Greek and Latin. The 
jealousy of the Roman clergy, probably provoked 

1 nutricula causidicorum Africa, Juvenal, VII, 148. 

2 Some modern writers are inclined to identify him with 
an otherwise unknown Tertullian who is mentioned in the 
index to the Pandects as the author of two works on Roman 
jurisprudence. 

vii 



Vlll GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

by Tertullian's dislike and mistrust of their laxity 
of discipline, led him to embrace the stricter rule of 
the Montanists (c. 202-203), and finally to assail 
ordinary Churchmen as unspiritual (207). But he 
was never excommunicated, although his arrogant 
attacks upon the Church, coming from so gifted a 
teacher, became, as St." Vincent of Lerins tells us 
(Common. 18), a severe trial to the faithful, and 
as Hilary says (in Matth. 5), his later error natur- 
ally cast some discredit on the authority of his 
approved writings. 

Tertullian lived to a great age (Jerome, de viris 
illustribus, 53), and his death may be placed about 
230-240. 

Happily the two treatises given in this little 
volume were written when Tertullian was still a 
loyal member of the Church : the De Testimonio 
Animce in 197, and the De Prcescriptione 
Hczreticorum in the following year. 



II 

THE KARTHAGINIAN SCHOOL OF APOLOGISTS 

THE Puritan mind and spirit were never more 
effectively illustrated and expressed than by our 
North African author. He saw in the develop- 
ment of pagan thought and religion nothing but 
a pernicious falsification and obscuring of the 
Divine Light and Truth : in the pagan mysteries 
nothing but the devil's anticipation or imitation 
of the Christian Sacraments (Chap. XL.). The 
narrowness of view which regarded all pre- 
Christian endeavour as the result of the rival effort 
of God's opponent to enslave the human intellect, 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION IX 

and deter it from the knowledge of the Truth, is 
expressed in the statement that Athens and Jeru- 
salem, the Church and the Academy, had nothing 
in common (Ghap. VII). 

Far different was the comprehensive and sym- 
pathetic attitude of the Alexandrian Apologists, 
who delighted to trace in the history and philo- 
sophy of the past those yearnings after and 
approximations to the Truth which constituted in 
the history of mankind a preparation for Christi- 
anity. Against Tertullian's sharp antithesis 
between pagan thought and Christian revelation 
we may place the wise saying of Clement that 
"the true scribe brings all kinds of learning into 
the Gospel net," or Origen's teaching that it was 
"mete to take the spoils of the ^Egyptians for the 
furniture of the Tabernacle." By the side of these 
early and almost contemporaneous opinions we 
may place the noble comment of the ecclesiastical 
historian Socrates on i Thess. v. 21 : "What is 
good, wherever it may be, is the property of the 
Truth" (H. E. in. 16). 

Tertullian does not stand quite alone in his 
identification of the heathen gods with the demons 
(de test. an. 2; Apol. 23). The idea was often 
present in the minds of the Apologists and others, 
and may be detected in Justin Martyr (Apol. i. 5), 
and later in Athanasius (de incarn. V. Dei, 30, 47). 
It is common in the Clementine writings and is the 
ground of St. Paul's warnings to the Corinthians. 1 
But his extraordinary views about the corporeality 
of the soul and the material nature of the resurrec- 
tion body are curiously indicative of a mind steeped 
in realism, and faint to respond to spiritual ideals, 
1 i Cor. x. 20 f. 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 



To him incorporeal means non-existent, and hence 
the soul, nay, GOD Himself, must have some kind 
of body (de carne Christi, 11). 



Ill 

THE CREED OF THE NORTH AFRICAN CHURCH 

IN Chap. XIII Tertullian sets out the Rule of 
Faith, which can easily be thrown into the form 
of the following familiar clauses. The words in 
italics are supplied from the Creed as given in 
de virg. vel. i, and adv. Prax. i. 

We believe in One GOD Almighty, the Creator 
of the world, 

And in His Son Jesus Christ, 

Born of the Virgin Mary, 

Suffered under Pontius Pilate, 

Was crucified, dead and buried. 

Rose again the third day from the dead, 

Ascended into heaven, 

Sitteth at the right hand of the Father, 

Shall come with glory to judge the quick and 
the dead, 

In the Holy Spirit, 

The resurrection of the flesh, 

Life eternal. 



IV 



THESE have been dealt with and illustrated so 
fully by Woodham, Kaye, Fuller (in D.C.B.), 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION XI 

Bonwetsch, and a host of more recent English, 
French and German editors, that I will permit 
myself only a few words as to my own translation. 
Tertullian's vocabulary is often archaic and more 
often forced, and his love of epigram and antithesis 
sometimes involves his style in harshness and 
obscurity. His sententious aphorisms are inimi- 
tably his own, and render him one of the most 
difficult writers to represent in a translation. 
Epigram, assonance, condensation, concentration 
are impossible to reproduce in any other language. 
Especially is his perilous use of irony conspicuous 
in these two treatises. St. Vincent of Lerins wrote 
of him that "almost every word was an aphorism, 
almost every sentence a victory." To which I am 
inclined to add, Non, nisi ex ipso Tertulliano, 
Tertullianum potes interpretari. The text I have 
used for the De Testimonio Anima is that printed 
by CEhler (Leipsic, 1853), and for the De Prcescrip- 
tione Hcereticorum that of the Oxford University 
Press (edited by myself, 1893). 



I 

ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 
O testimonium animce naturaliter Christiana ! 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 

THIS short treatise was written very soon after 
the Apology, a work to which it refers for a fuller 
proof of the antiquity of the Scriptures, and of 
their priority to any heathen writings (Chap. V). 
It elaborates in some detail and with great acute- 
ness a theme which Tertullian had used in a briefer 
form in the Apology (Chap. XVII), namely, the 
confirmation which the natural testimony of the 
Soul afforded to Christian Truth, and the disclosure 
and revelation of a Soul naturally Christian through 
the universal voice of conscience. 

The germ of this argument is found in Minucius 
Felix, Octavius, 18, whence Tertullian took it; and 
indeed the nineteenth chapter of the Octavius so 
exactly corresponds to Tertullian 's description in 
his opening words (Chap. I) of Christian authors 
who had culled from heathen writers testimonies to 
the Truth, that I cannot but believe he was referring 
to Minucius' work. Minucius refers for the Unity 
and spirituality of GOD to the poets Ennius, Homer 
and Vergil, and to a whole string of philosophers 
from Thales to Chrysippus. 

Here is the excerpt from the Octavius which 
Tertullian worked up 

Do not enquire for the name of God; GOD is His Name. 
. . . Herein too I have the consent of all; for I hear the 
people when they stretch their hands heavenwards say 

13 



14 TERTULLIAN 

nothing but "Goo! " "Goo is great! " " GOD is true! " 
"If GOD wills! " Is this the natural speech of the vulgar, 
or the utterance of a confessing Christian? 

The reader has Tertullian's words before him 
(below, pp. iQff.), and I add here the passage from 
the Apology as another datum for comparison 

We worship One GOD . . . the True and great GOD . . . 
of Whom they who refuse to recognize Him cannot be 
ignorant. . . . Will you have this proved from the testimony 
of the soul itself? For the soul, although limited by the 
prison-house of the body, although hindered by evil customs, 
although weakened by lusts and desires, although enslaved 
to false gods, yet when it recovers its senses, as if from 
intoxication or sleep or any infirmity, and enjoys its own 
proper sanity, names GOD by this Name alone, as being 
the proper Name of the True GOD: "Great GOD! " "Good 
GOD! " and "Which GOD grant! " are common expressions. 
It also testifies to Him as Judge: "Goo sees," "I leave it 
to GOD," and "Goo will repay me." O testimony of the 
soul naturally Christian ! Lastly, when uttering these ex- 
pressions, it looks not to the Capitol but to Heaven. For 
it knows the abode of the Living GOD : from Him and 
from thence it came down. 



SYNOPSIS 

TESTIMONIES to Christian Truth may be found in the writ- 
ings of pagan teachers, philosophers and poets ; but whereas 
their statements are generally received with blind deference 
by their followers, their authority is rejected so soon as their 
teaching most nearly approaches the Truth and most closely 
resembles the fundamentals of Christianity. 

Now a new witness is summoned, of the highest and 
universal value the human Soul, in its natural state, pos- 
sessing only that knowledge which is innate or learnt directly 
from its Maker (Chap. I). 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 15 

From its spontaneous utterances the Soul bears involun- 
tary testimony to the Unity of GOD 
to His Nature, 

to His just judgement (Chap. II), and 
to the existence of evil spirits (Chap. III). 

Christianity teaches the Immortality of the Soul, a Future 
Judgement, and the Resurrection of the Body this last being 
necessary for the full presentment of the personality of each 
person for Judgement. 

The Soul pities the dead, fears death, and often exhibits a 
desire for posthumous fame feelings which prove its belief 
in a hereafter (Chap. IV). 

The Soul's testimonies are clear and simple ; they are also 
universal, because derived from Mistress Nature, herself 
derived from GOD. Earlier than any literature, they have 
not been derived from books. If they had, they must needs 
have come from Holy Scripture originally, the oldest writings 
in the world, which the heathen made use of (Chap. V). 

There are only three authorities whence the Soul could 
have derived its knowledge Heathen writings, the Divine 
Scriptures and Nature. God and Nature must be true, 
therefore the Soul's testimony is valid, and it is found to be 
one and the same in every race of mankind. 

Its neglect of its own witness to Christian Truth will 
be the Soul's condemnation at the day of Judgement 
(Chap. VI). 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 



CHAPTER I 

IT were a work demanding considerable ingenuity 
and a still more retentive memory, were one to 
extract the testimonies to Christian Truth out of 
all the most approved writings of philosophers and 
poets and teachers of secular learning and wisdom, 
so that its rivals and opponents might be convicted 
out of their own literature both of error as regards 
themselves and of injustice towards us. Some, 
indeed, whose diligence in research and excellence 
of memory in ancient literature have been unfailing, 
have composed booklets with this end in view which 
are in our hands; 1 and in these works they set 
forth and attest in each particular the reason and 
origin of our traditions and the proofs of our tenets, 
from which it can be seen that we have upheld 
nothing either novel or strange which does not find 
support and countenance in popular writings in 
everybody's hands, in so far as we have either 
rejected error or admitted truth. But human 
obstinacy arising out of credulity has impaired 
men's faith even in their own teachers, who on other 
points are deemed most approved and most authori- 
tative, wherever they come across vindications of 

1 Minucius Felix. See Intro., p. 13. 
16 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 17 

the Christian position. Then are the poets foolish 
when they assign to the gods human passions and 
stories ; then are the philosophers stupid when they 
knock at the doors of Truth. One will only be 
regarded as wise and learned so long as one utters 
sentiments nearly Christian ; while if one has 
really aimed at prudence and wisdom by rejecting 
(heathen) ceremonies or by convicting the world 
(of sin), one is at once branded as a Christian. 

We will now therefore have nothing to do with 
a literature and a teaching of such fertile perversity 
that it is believed in for what is false in it rather 
than for what is true. No matter that some have 
taught one GOD and one only. Rather let them 
have written nothing at all which a Christian 
acknowledges, lest he may upbraid them with it. 
For all do not know what has been written, and 
those who do know do not agree with it with any 
confidence. Far less do men agree with our 
writings, to which no one comes unless he is a 
Christian already. 

I call a new witness, better known than all liter- 
ature, more discussed than all doctrine, more public 
than all publications, greater than any man, yet 
which is indeed the whole of man. 

Stand forth, O Soul, in the midst; whether thou 
art divine and eternal (as many philosophers assert), 
and therefore less likely to lie, or whether thou art 
the opposite of divine because mortal (as Epicurus 
is alone in thinking), and therefore oughtest the less 
to lie ; * whether thou art received from heaven, or 
conceived on earth ; whether thou art produced from 

1 i. e. being an outside, independent source of witness to 
GOD. 



1 8 TERTULLIAN 

numbers or atoms ; whether thou hast thy beginning 
with the body, or art subsequently introduced into 
the body ; whencesoever and howsoever thou makest 
man to be a rational being, the most capable of 
sense and knowledge stand forth and utter thy 
testimony. 

But I do not summon thee in the form in which 
thou givest vent to thy wisdom when thou hast 
been shaped in the schools, trained in libraries, fed 
in Attic academies and Porches. 1 I address thee 
in thy simple, unskilled, unpolished, untaught form, 
such as they possess thee who have nothing else 
but thee, thy very self alone, as thou existest in the 
lane, in the highway, in the loom. I need thy 
inexperience, since no one credits thy experience, 
however small. I demand of thee that which thou 
bringest into man, which thou hast learnt to feel 
either from thyself or from thine author, whoever 
he may be. Thou art not, as I know, Christian, for 
a soul is wont to be made, not born Christian. 2 
Yet now Christians extort from thee an alien, a 
testimony against thine own friends, so that these 
may actually blush before thee because they hate 
and mock us for those very things of which now 
thy conscience accuses thee. 

1 i. e. brought up on Platonist or Stoic teaching. 

2 So previously in his Apology Tertullian wrote: "Chris- 
tians are made, not born"; cp. Augustine, de pecc. mer. 
Ill, 9: "Not birth, but rebirth, makes Christians."* 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 19 



CHAPTER II 

WE give offence when we preach the ONE GOD 
under One Name only, from Whom are all things, 1 
and under Whom is the universe. Speak forth thy 
testimony, if thou knowest this to be the truth. 
For we hear thee everywhere openly and with full 
liberty (which is denied to us), ejaculating, "May 
GOD grant it," and " If GOD wills." And by these 
words thou declarest that some ONE exists, and 
confessest that all power belongs to Him to Whose 
will thou lookest. At the same time thou sayest 
that the rest are not gods, inasmuch as thou callest 
them by their own names Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, 
Minerva. For thou affirmest Him alone to be GOD 
W T hom thou callest simply GOD; and hence when 
thou dost sometimes also call the others gods, thou 
seemest to do so by a derived and, as it were, a 
borrowed use of the word. 

Nor is the Nature of the GOD Whom we preach 
hid from thee. " GOD is good," " GOD doeth good," 
are thine own expressions obviously implying, 
"But man is evil"; involving in this contrary 
proposition by indirect inference the reproach that 
man is evil because he has departed from the good 
GOD. 

Again, whereas with us every benediction in the 
Name of the GOD of goodness and loving-kindness 
is the most sacred bond of our faith and practice, 
"Goo bless thee" runs off thy tongue as readily 
as it should come from any Christian's need. And 
even when thou turnest the invocation of GOD into 

1 i Cor. viii. 6. 



2O TERTULLIAN 

a curse, by that very phrase thou dost confess 
equally with us that His power is supreme over 
us all. 

There are some who, although they do not deny 
GOD, yet do not regard Him as One Who searches 
and beholds and judges (in which opinion, of 
course, they markedly differ from us who cling to 
that doctrine in fear of the proclaimed Judgement), 
thus attempting to honour GOD by freeing Him 
from the care of watching and the trouble of 
censuring, not even permitting Him to be angry. 
"For if GOD be angry," say they, "He is cor- 
ruptible and passionate; and moreover what is 
corruptible and passionate is perishable, but GOD 
is not perishable." These same persons, however, 
by their own confession elsewhere that the soul is 
divine and Goo-given, run up against a testimony 
of the soul itself which can be retorted against 
their opinion just given; for if the soul be either 
divine or bestowed by GOD, doubtless it knows its 
Giver, and if it knows Him it surely fears Him as 
its especial Endower. Doth it not fear Him Whom 
it would rather have propitious towards it than 
wrathful ? Whence comes, then, that natural fear 
of the soul for GOD if GOD knows not how to 
be angry? How can He be feared Who cannot 
be offended? What is to be feared save anger? 
Whence arises anger save from censure ? Whence 
censure save from judgement ? And whence judge- 
ment save from power ? And who has the supreme 
power save GOD alone? Hence comes, O soul, 
thy readiness to say from thine own inmost know- 
ledge, at all times and places, no one scoffing or 
objecting, "Goo seeth all things"; "I leave it to 
GOD"; "Goo will repay"; "Goo shall judge 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 21 

between us." Whence hast thou this knowledge, 
not being Christian ? 

Moreover, often in the very temples themselves, 
wreathed with Ceres' fillet, or scarleted with 
Saturn's cloak, or white in Isis' linen, thou suppli- 
catest GOD as Judge ! Thou standest under 
^Esculapius, thou deckest out Juno in bronze, thou 
bindest on Minerva a morion with dusky orna- 
ments, and yet thou dost not adjure any one of 
these deities that are present with thee ! In thine 
own forum thou appealest to a Judge in another 
place : in thine own temples thou sufferest another 
GOD ! O Testimony of Truth, which among the 
very daemons * makes these a witness for the 
Christians ! 



CHAPTER III 

BUT when we affirm that there are daemons as 
a matter of fact we prove their existence, for we 
alone expel them some supporter of Chrysippus 2 
mocks us. Yet thine own execrations confirm the 
fact of their existence and of their being abomi- 
nated. Thou callest a man a daemon either for his 
filthiness or malice or insolence, or for some stigma 
or other which we assign to daemons, in a sudden 
hastiness of hatred. Thou namest Satan, 3 for 

1 Tertullian, and the African school of Apologists gener- 
ally, held that the pagan gods were identical with the 
daemons who were agents of the Evil One. See Apol. 23. 

2 Chrysippus. One of the most distinguished of the Stoic 
philosophers (300-220 B.C.), a disciple of Zeno and Cleanthes. 

3 Tertullian 's meaning seems to be that Satan is unwit- 
tingly referred to in the maledictory exclamation of the 



22 TERTULLIAN 

instance (whom we call the angel of evil, the con- 
triver of error, the corrupter of the whole world), 
in every expression of vexation and scorn and 
detestation the being by whom man in the begin- 
ning was beguiled to transgress GOD'S command, 
and on that account was given over to death, and 
brought it about that the whole race, thus infected 
from his seed, became a sharer in and transmitter 
of his condemnation. Thou art aware, therefore, 
of thine own destroyer, and albeit that Christians 
alone (including whatever sect is on GOD'S side) * 
know him, yet even thou too recognizest him since 
thou hatest him. 



CHAPTER IV 

To come now to a matter more closely related 
to thine own perception how intimately indeed 
does it touch thy very being ! we affirm that thou 
existest after the extinction of the bodily life, and 
awaitest a day of judgement, and art destined, 
according to thy deservings, either to torture or 
to refreshment, in either case eternally; for the 
perception of which thy original essence must 
necessarily return to thee, together with the 
substance of the identical human being, and 
thy memory; because neither canst thou feel any- 
thing of good or bad without the faculty of sensitive 

vulgar, " Malum ! " See Terence, Eun. IV, 7, 10; Plautus, 
Epidic. V, 2, 44. Tertullian uses Malus for Satan, de cult, 
fern. 5; de idol. 16, 21; so also Paulin, Carm. adv. pag. 
V, it;8. See my note on Apol, 22, 
1 the Jews. 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 23 

flesh, 1 nor is there any possibility of judgement 
without the presentation of the actual person who 
has deserved to suffer judgement. This Christian 
opinion, though* nobler far than Pythagoras', 
inasmuch as it doth not transmigrate thee into 
animals; though fuller than Plato's, inasmuch as 
it restores to thee thy dowry of body ; though more 
dignified than Epicurus', inasmuch as it saves 
thee from perishing, is yet set down to sheer 
vanity and stupidity and (as it is called) "pre- 
sumption," 2 merely because it is Christian. But 
we blush not if our "presumption" is found also 
with thee. For in the first place, when thou 
recallest in memory any one who is dead, thou 
callest him "wretched man" not surely as one 
cut off from a happy life, but as one assigned to 
punishment and judgement. Another time, how- 
ever, thou callest the dead free from care thus 
implying the disadvantage of life and the boon 
of death. Next thou callest the dead free from 
care what times thou retirest outside the gate to 
the tombs with thy viands and delicacies, or when 
(appeasing thyself rather than them) thou returnest 
from the tombs overcome with wine. 

But I demand thy sober opinion. Thou callest 
the dead "poor wretches" when thou speakest 

1 This is worked out more fully and with equally crude 
materialism in the treatise de resurrectione carnis. 

2 This was quite a technical term of reproach against the 
Christians, like dementia, obstinatio; see ad Nat. I, 19; 
Apol. 19, "our confidence which you call presumption"; 
ib. 49, "tenets that in our case alone are called presump- 
tions, but in the case of philosophers and poets are looked 
upon as sublime and most ingenious flights of science," 
So again below, 4; compare de anima, i. 



24 TERTULLIAN 

from thine own mind when thou art away from 
them. For thou canst not denounce their lot in 
their feast when they are, as it were, present and 
reclining with thee : thou art bound to flatter those 
on whose account thou art faring more joyously. 
Dost thou then call him a poor wretch who feeleth 
nothing? What when thou cursest, as one who 
does feel, him whose memory thou recallest with 
some mordant dislike ? Thou prayest that the earth 
may lie heavy on him, and that his ashes may be 
tormented among the shades below. Likewise out 
of good feeling for one to whom thou owest 
favours, thou implorest refreshment on his bones 
and ashes, and that he may rest happily among 
the shades. If thou hast no capability of suffer- 
ing after death, if there is no persistency of feeling, 
if in fine thou art absolutely naught when thou 
hast left the body, why dost thou lie against thyself 
and imply the possibility of some suffering here- 
after ? Nay, why dost thou fear death at all ? 
There is nothing after death for thee to fear, since 
there is nothing to be felt. For even were it to 
be said that death is to be feared, not because it 
threatens something beyond, but because it deprives 
one of the advantage of life, yet since the far more 
numerous ills of life are cut off at the same time, 
the fear of death is removed by a gain of greater 
weight; for the loss of good is no longer to be 
feared inasmuch as it is balanced by another good, 
the freedom from ills. That ought not to be feared 
which frees one from everything fearful. If thou 
fearest to depart out of life because thou knowest 
life to be best, thou certainly oughtest not to fear 
death which thou dost not know to be evil. But 
on the other hand, inasmuch as thou fearest it, thou 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 25 

showest that thou knowest it to be evil. But thou 
wouldst not know it to be evil, and therefore 
wouldst not fear it, if thou didst not know that 
there is something after death which makes it an 
evil and a thing of dread to thee. We will say 
nothing now of the instinctive fear of death. No 
one should fear what cannot be avoided. I will 
meet thee from the opposite side of a more joyful 
hope after death. For in almost all men there is 
an innate desire of fame after death. There is no 
need to recount again the Curtii, and the Reguli, 
and the Greek heroes of whose contempt of death 
for the sake of posthumous fame there are 
innumerable testimonies. 1 Who now, in our own 
day, does not strive that his memory may be con- 
stantly borne in mind after his death, and that his 
name may be preserved either by works of liter- 
ature, or by simple glory of his virtues, or by 
the splendour of his very tomb ? Whence is it 
that to-day the soul aspires to something which it 
wishes for after death, and makes such elaborate 
preparations for what it can use only after its 
departure? Surely it would care nothing about 
the future if it knew nothing about the future. 

But perhaps thou art more certain of thy sentience 
after death than of thy future resurrection the 
doctrine of which we are branded as being the 
"presumptuous" 2 teachers. Yet this also is pro- 
claimed by the soul. For if any one inquires about 
some one already dead as though he were alive, 
at once the answer comes, "He has just gone, and 
ought to return." 3 

1 See instances in Apol. 50. 

2 See note above. 

3 This was a conventional formula, as though the question 



26 TERTULLIAN 



CHAPTER V 

THESE testimonies of the soul are as simple as 
they are true, as constant as they are simple, as 
common as they are habitual, as natural as they 
are common, as divine as they are natural. I do 
not think they could appear to any one to be trifling 
or indifferent, if one meditates on the majesty of 
Nature whence the authority of the soul is derived. 
Howsoever much thou allowest to the mistress, 
the same must thou assign to the disciple. Nature 
is the mistress; the soul, the disciple. Whatever 
either the mistress has taught or the soul has learnt 
came from GOD, the Master in truth of the mistress 
herself. What the soul can infer about its first 
Teacher it is thy power to estimate from what is 
in thyself. Think of that soul which enables thee 
to think. Reflect on that which is in presages thy 
seer, in omens thy augur, in issues thy foreseer. 
Is it strange if, given by GOD, it knows how to 
divine for man? Is it very strange if it knows 
Him by Whom it has been given? Even when 
outwitted by its adversary, it remembers its own 
Author and His goodness and His decree both of 
its own end and of that of its adversary himself. 
Is it so strange if, given by GOD, it utters the truths 
that GOD has given to His own people to know ? 

But he who does not think such outbursts of the 
soul are the teaching of its essential nature and 



asked in ignorance of the person's death was of good omen 
to the deceased, 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 27 

secret truths entrusted to its inborn consciousness, 1 
will rather say that the existing habit, and, as it 
were, vice, of speaking in this way has been con- 
firmed by the widely spread opinions amongst the 
common people of published books. Surely the 
soul existed before letters, and speech before books, 
and ideas before the record of them, and man 
himself before the philosopher and poet. Is it 
then to be believed that before literature and its 
publication men lived without speaking of such 
matters? Used no one to speak of GOD and His 

oodness, of death and of the shades below? 
peech went a-begging, I suppose nay, none was 
possible for lack at that time of those subjects 
without which it cannot exist even to-day when it 
is so much more full and rich and wise if those 
things which to-day are so obvious, so pressing, 
so close at hand, bred as it were on the very lips, 
were formerly non-existent, before letters had 
sprung up in the world, before Mercury, 2 I suppose, 
was born. 

And whence, I pray, did letters come to know 
and spread abroad for the use of speech matters 
which no mind had ever conceived or tongue 
produced, or ear heard? 

But in truth, since the Divine Scriptures which 
are in our hands or in those of the Jews, into whose 
olive 3 tree we have been grafted, precede secular 

1 So again, de virg. vel. 5, Tertullian speaks of the divine 
nature of the soul, through the tacit consciousness of nature, 
unwittingly bringing into use forms of speech conformable 
with Scripture. 

2 Mercury, as identified by the Romans with Hermes, was 
believed to be the inventor of the alphabet; Cicero, de nat. 
deorum, III, 22. 

3 Oleastro, properly the wild olive, but if the text is correct 



28 TERTULLIAN 

literature by a very long period, or even by a 
moderate space of time (as we have shown in the 
proper place in order to demonstrate their trust- 
worthiness), 1 if the soul hath taken these utterances 
from literature, obviously it must be believed to 
have taken them from ours, not from yours, because 
the earlier are more potent for instructing the soul 
than the later, which were actually themselves 
waiting to be instructed by the earlier. So that 
even if we grant that the soul was instructed from 
your writings, yet tradition belongs to its first 
origin, and whatever you happen to have taken 
and handed on from ours is altogether ours. Since 
this is so, it matters little whether the knowledge 
which the soul possesses has been implanted in it 
by GOD or derived from the writings of GOD. 



CHAPTER VI 

BELIEVE therefore thine own writings, and also 
believe our records so much the more as being 
divine; but as touching the witness of the soul 
itself, believe Nature in like manner. Select which 
of these thou notest to be the more faithful sister to 
the Truth. If thou doubtest about thine own 
writings, neither GOD nor Nature speak falsely. 
That thou mayest believe both Nature and GOD, 
believe the soul : thus it will come to pass that 
thou wilt believe thyself also. Assuredly it is the 

here = olivo. Rigault and other editors suggest olea ex 
oleastro. The reference is to Rom. xi. 17 f, 
1 Apol, 19. 



ON THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOUL 29 

soul that thou valuest as making thee as great as 
thou art, whose thou art entirely; for the soul is 
everything to thee, without which thou canst 
neither live nor die, and for its sake thou neglectest 
GOD. For since thou art afraid to become a 
Christian, summon the soul and ask why, when 
worshipping another, she calleth upon the name 
of GOD ? l Why, when she brandeth spirits as 
accursed, doth she speak of daemons? Why doth 
she make her protestations heavenwards and her 
execrations earthwards ? Why doth she worship 
him in one place, and in another call upon Him as 
an Avenger? Why doth she pass judgements on 
the dead ? Why hath she Christian phrases on 
her lips when Christians she desires neither to hear 
nor see ? Why hath she either given us those 
phrases or received them from us ? Why hath she 
been either our teacher or our scholar? Hadst 
thou not better suspect that there is something in 
this agreement of speech amid so great a disagree- 
ment of practice? Foolish thou art if thou 
attributest such, to our own language only or to 
the Greek (both of which are regarded as near 
akin), and deniest the solidarity of Nature. The 
soul descended not from heaven exclusively on the 
Latins and Greeks. Man is one and the same in 
all nations; the soul is one though speech be 
various; the spirit is one though its voice differs; 
each race has its own language, but the themes 
of language are the same in all. GOD is every- 
where, 2 and His goodness everywhere; the daemon 
is everywhere, and his curse everywhere; the 

1 Above, Chap. II. 

2 i. e in universal speech. 



3O TERTULLIAN 

invocation of divine judgement is everywhere, and 
the consciousness of it everywhere ; and the witness 
of the soul likewise is everywhere. Every soul in 
its own right shouts aloud what we are not per- 
mitted even to whisper. Deservedly therefore is 
every soul a culprit and a witness ; for in so far as 
it witnesses to the Truth, just so far is it guilty 
of wrongdoing, and so it will stand before the 
courts of GOD in the day of judgement speechless, 
Thou usest to proclaim GOD, O Soul, and didst 
not seek Him ; thou didst abominate daemons, and 
didst worship them ; thou didst appeal to the judge- 
ment of GOD, and didst not believe in its exist- 
ence ; thou didst look for infernal punishments, and 
tookest no precautions to avoid them ; thou wert 
Christianly minded, and yet didst persecute the 
Christian name. 



II 

ON THE " PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 
Depositum custodi 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 

IN legal language the word " Praescriptio " 
denoted something written in front of, and limit- 
ing an already existing formula. Something of its 
original legal connotation may be detected in our 
familiar use of it in medicine; for a prescription 
is something written out beforehand for subsequent 
use. Tertullian employs it to limit discussion with 
the heretics to the single point of their right to 
appeal to the Scriptures. He argues that their use 
of the Christian documents is not allowable, because 
they have forfeited their right to the name of 
Christians, and with that their right of possession 
of the Christian literature. The following synopsis 
will sufficiently show the course of Tertullian 's 
argument. 

SYNOPSIS 

I. Introduction ; Chaps. I-XIV. 

1. Heresies a necessary evil; Chaps. I-VII. 

2. Refutation of the heretical misapplication of 

Christ's command, "Seek and ye shall 
find"; Chaps. VIII-XII. 

3. The Rule of Faith; Chaps. XIII, XIV. 

II. Main "Prescription"; Chaps. XV-XLIV. 

i. i. Heretics forbidden to appeal to the Scrip- 
tures in argument (Chaps. XV-XIX) ; 
because the Catholic Church is the sole 
possessor of the True Faith and its 
records. The Apostles whom Christ sent 
can alone be received as Teachers, and 
the substance of their teaching can be 
learnt from Apostolic Churches only 
(Chaps. XX, XXI). 
c 33 



34 TERTULLIAN 

2. Consideration of heretical objections drawn 
from 

(a) The alleged ignorance of the 

Apostles : 

(1) Rebuke of Peter by Paul. 

(2) Special revelations to Paul; 

Chaps. XXII-XXIV. 

(b) The alleged non-publication of the 

whole Gospel by the Apostles; 
Chaps. XXV-XXVII. 

(c) The alleged error in the Church's 

reception of it; Chaps. XXVII, 

XXVIII. 

ii. i. Heresies essentially of later date than the 
Church; their teachers lacking mission, 
and without episcopal succession; Chaps. 
XXIX-XXXIV. 

2. The true doctrine and the true Scriptures 

preserved by the Apostolic Churches; 
Chaps. XXXV-XL. 

3. Description of the heretical lack of organ- 

ization and discipline ; Chaps. XLI-XLIV. 

III. Conclusion; Chap. XLV. 






ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 



CHAPTER 1 

THE character of the present times calls upon 
us to bear in mind that the heresies around us 
ought not to occasion wonder either at their exist- 
ence for they were foretold as bound to exist, 1 or 
that they subvert the faith of some for they exist 
for the very purpose of giving an opportunity to 
faith, through suffering trial, of being approved. 

It is therefore due to a want of heed and reflection 
that many are offended by the mere fact that 
heresies have so much power. How much would 
they have if they did not exist ? 2 When anything 
is destined in any case to be, its being has behind 
it an irresistible cause, and then this cause of its 
existence makes it evident that it is impossible for 
it not to exist. 

1 Matt. vii. 15; xxiv. 4, n, 24; Acts xx. 24 f. ; i Tim. 
iv. i f . ; 2 Pet. ii. i. In i Cor. xi. 19 St. Paul was probably 
quoting- definite words of Christ; see Knowling, Witness of 
the Epistles, p. 119. 

2 A Tertullianesque paradox. The non-existence of 
heresies would falsify the- predictions of Scripture. 



35 



36 TERTULLIAN 



CHAPTER II 

IN the case of fever, for example, to which its 
own place is assigned amongst other deadly and 
excruciating calamities for the destruction of man, 
we do not wonder at its existence, for it does 
exist; or that it destroys man, for it exists for that 
purpose. Similarly in the case of heresies, which 
are engendered for the weakening and destruction 
of faith, if we are struck with amazement that they 
have this power, we may just as well feel amaze- 
ment that they exist; since as long as they exist 
they have power, and as long as they have power 
they have being. 

Again, in the case of fever, rather than wonder 
at it we loathe it as an evil, recognized as such 
both from the reason of its existence and from its 
power; and so far as we can we take precautions 
against it, since we have not the power to annihilate 
it. Yet in the case of heresies, which inflict eternal 
death and the burning of a keener fire, some 
persons prefer to wonder that heresies have such 
power rather than to avoid their power when they 
have the power to avoid it. Heresies would not 
prevail a whit if men would cease to wonder at 
their prevailing so greatly. For either whilst men 
are wondering, they lay themselves open to an 
occasion of stumbling, or because they are being 
tempted to stumble, they wonder on that account, 
fancying that the great power of heresies arose 
from some truth that they possess. As though it 
were wonderful, forsooth, that evil should have 
any strength of its own. Yet it is to be observed 



ON T"HE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 37 

that heresies prevail chiefly with those who are 
not valiant in the Faith. 

In a contest of boxers or gladiators, in very many 
cases a competitor wins the victory not because 
he is strong or insuperable, but because the defeated 
one was a man of no power; and hence that same 
victor, when subsequently matched against a really 
strong man, is himself overcome and retires. Just 
in the same way heresies owe all their power to 
men's weaknesses, and are powerless when they 
assail a really strong faith. 



CHAPTER III 

IT is, indeed, not unusual for this weaker class of 
men to be edified x to their own ruin through 
reliance on certain persons who have been ensnared 
by heresy. Why is it, they argue, that this woman 
or that man, most faithful, prudent and experienced 
persons in the Church, have gone over to the other 
side? Does not such a questioner himself supply 
the answer? Those whom heresy has been able 
to pervert ought not to have been accounted 
prudent, or faithful, or experienced. Besides, is it 
anything so extraordinary for one who has been 
approved afterwards to fall away again ? Saul, 
good-hearted beyond the rest, was afterwards over- 
thrown by envy. 2 David, a man good after the 
Lord's heart, 3 was afterwards guilty of murder and 

1 Tertullian copies St. Paul's ironical oxymoron in i Cor. 
viii. 10. 

2 i Sam. xviii. 7 ff. 

3 i Sam. xiii. 14. But it should be noted that in the 
Hebrew the phrase "after His own heart" qualifies the verb, 



38 TERTULLIAN 

adultery. Solomon, gifted with every grace and 
wisdom by the Lord, 1 was won over to idolatry 
by women. 2 For the Son of GOD alone was it 
reserved to continue without fault. 3 What then 
if a bishop, or a deacon, or a widow, 4 or a virgin, 
or a doctor, 5 or even a confessor shall have lapsed 
from the Rule of Faith ; are heresies on that account 
to be regarded as maintaining the Truth ? Do we ^ 
test the Creed by persons or persons by the Creed?* c 
No one save a Christian is wise, faithful and high 
in honour; but no one is a Christian save he who 
shall have endured to the end. 6 Thou, being a 
man, knowest each one from without. Thou 
judgest from what thou seest, yet thou seest only 
as far as thine eyes permit thee. But "the eyes 
of the Lord are high," saith the Scripture. 7 "Man 
looketh upon the outward appearance, GOD looketh 
upon the heart." 8 And for that reason the Lord 

not the object. " Yhvh after his own mind [ = uninfluenced 
by human motives] hath sought a man." Acts xiii. 22 gives 
a midrashici paraphrase. 

1 i Kings iii. 12 ; iv. 29. 

2 i Kings xi. 4 ff. 

3 i Pet. ii. 22. 

4 For the early institution of the Order of Widows, see 
i Tim. v. 9; Apost. Const. II, 36; III, 7. 

5 In the North African Church the special duty of the 
"doctores," who might be Readers, Deacons or Presbyters, 
was the instruction of the Catechumens. 

6 Matt. x. 22. 

7 Tertullian often quotes Scripture very loosely, sometimes 
giving the sense, sometimes weaving together several texts, 
as in the immediately following sentences. Other instances 
will be found in Chaps. VII, VIII, XI; ApoL 33. The 
present quotation has been thought to refer to 4 Esdras 
viii. 20; cp. Jer. xvi. 17; xxxii. 19. 

8 i Sam. xvi. 7. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 39 

seeth and knoweth who are His. 1 The slip that 
He hath not set He rooteth up. 2 He shows that 
"there shall be last from those that are first," 3 and 
He carries "a fan in His hand to purge His 
threshing-floor." 4 Let the chaff of a fickle faith * 
fly forth as it wills with every blast of temptation : 5 
so will the bulk of the grain be purer which is to 
be stored in the garner of the Lord. Did not some 
of the disciples, being offended, turn away from 
the Lord HimseJf ? 6 Nevertheless the rest did not 
think that for that reason they too ought to depart 
from His footsteps. Those who knew Him to be 
the Word of Life and to have come forth from 
GOD 7 continued in His company even to the end, 
after He had calmly confronted them with the 
question whether they also were willing to go 
away. 8 It is of less moment that men like Phygelus 
and Hermogenes 9 and Philetus and Hymenaeus 10 
deserted the Apostles : the very betrayer of Christ 
was of the Apostles. 

We make it a matter of wonder if Christ's 
Churches are sometimes deserted; whereas the 
very things which we suffer after the example of 
Christ show that we are Christians. "They went 
out from us," says the Apostle, 11 "but they were 
not of us. If they had been of us, they would 
certainly have continued with us." 

1 2 Tim. ii. 19. 2 Matt. xv. 13. 

3 Luke xiii. 30. 4 Matt. iii. 12. 

5 Eph. iv. 14. 6 John vi. 60 ff. 

7 John xvi. 30. 8 John vi. 67. 

9 2 Tim. i. 15. 10 2 Tim. ii. 17. 
11 i John ii. 19. 



40 TERTULLIAN 



CHAPTER IV 

LET us rather be mindful both of the statements 
of the Lord 1 and of the Apostolic Letters 2 which 
foretold to us that heresies should be, and enjoined 
that they should be avoided; and as we are not 
dumbfounded at their existence, so let us not 
wonder that they possess that power which makes 
it necessary for them to be avoided. 

The Lord taught that many ravening wolves 
would come in sheep's clothing. And what is 
sheep's clothing but the outward profession of the 
Christian name ? 3 What are the ravening wolves 
but crafty intentions and dispositions lurking 
within to molest the flock of Christ ? Who are 
false prophets but false preachers? Who are false 
Apostles but spurious evangelizers ? Who are the 
Antichrists now and ever but the rebels against 
Christ? There are, through wilfulness of teach- 
ings, heresies assailing the Church ; at the present 
time no less than in the future will Antichrist 
attack her by cruelty of persecutions, only there 
is this difference : persecution makes martyrs, 
heresy only apostates. And therefore it was neces- 
sary that there should be heresies, in order that 
those who are approved might be made manifest 
meaning both those who shall have stood fast in 
times of persecution and those who shall not have 
strayed away to heresies. For the Apostle does 

1 Matt. vii. 15; xxiv. 4, n, 24. 

2 i Cor. xi. 19; i Tim. iv. i f . ; 2 Pet. ii. i. 

3 This passage evidently suggested Vincent of JLerins' 
Common. 25, 66, 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 41 

not wish those to be accounted approved who 
change the Faith into heresy; as they perversely 
interpret his words in their own favour, because 
he said in another place, 1 "Prove all things, hold 
fast that which is good." As if it were not 
possible after proving all things amiss to fasten 
through error upon the choice of some evil. 



CHAPTER V 

BESIDES, when he rebukes dissensions and 
schisms which are undoubted evils, he immediately 
adds "heresies" 2 also. That which he adjoins to 
evil things he assuredly confesses to be an evil, 
and indeed a greater evil, since he says he believed 
concerning their dissensions and schisms, because 
he knew that heresies moreover must be. He 
showed that in view of the greater evil he easily 
believed about the lighter evils : certainly not 
meaning that he thus believed concerning the evils, 
because heresies were good, but to forewarn them 
not to marvel about temptations of a worse char- 
acter, which, he asserted, tended to make manifest 
those who were approved, that is, those whom 
heresies could not pervert. Similarly, since the 
whole section savours of the preservation of unity 
and the restraint of divisions, whilst heresies 
divorce from unity no less than schisms and dissen- 
sions, undoubtedly he includes heresies in that 
same category of blame in which he also places 
schisms and dissensions; and hence he does make 

1 i Thess, v. 21. 2 i Cor, xi. 18, 19. 



42 TERTULLIAN 

those to be approved who have turned aside to 
heresies, since he pointedly exhorts men to turn 
away from such, and teaches all to speak one thing 
and to be minded the selfsame way l an ideal 
which heresy does not allow. 



CHAPTER VI 

WE need not dwell longer on this point, since 
it is the same Paul who also in another place, when 
writing to the Galatians, 2 classes heresies among 
carnal sins, and who warns Titus 3 that a man that 
is an heretic must be avoided after the first admoni- 
tion, 4 because he that is such has become perverted 
and sins, being self-condemned. Moreover, also 
in nearly every Epistle, when enjoining the neces- 
sity of fleeing false doctrines, he indicates heresies. 
For false doctrines are the production of heresies : 
heresies being so-called from a Greek word which 
signifies the "choice " which any one makes when 
introducing or adopting them. 5 And it is for this 
reason that he calls a heretic self-condemned, 
because he chose for himself that wherein he is 
condemned. For us, however, it is not lawful to 

1 i Cor. i. 10. 2 Gal. v. 20. 

3 Titus iii. 10. 

4 The Latin version of the New Testament used by 
Tertullian omitted "et alteram." 

5 A'tpeffis. This is the true definition of heresy. Etymo- 
logically it is self-willed choice, in contrast to the receptive 
docility of the Catholic temper : practically it is the invention 
or espousal of new and erroneous teaching contrary to the 
tradition handed down by the Apostles and Apostolic 
Churches from Christ. Cp. Chaps. XIV, XXXVII ; Apol. 47. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION' OF HERETICS 43 

introduce anything on our own authority, nor to 
choose that which any one else has similarly intro- 
duced. We have the Apostles of the Lord as our 
authorities, who not even themselves chose to 
introduce anything on their own authority, but 
faithfully handed on to the nations the rule received 
from Christ. Consequently, if even an angel from 
heaven preached otherwise, he would be called 
anathema by us. 1 Already at that time had the 
Holy Spirit perceived that there would be an 
angel of deceit in a certain virgin Philumena, 2 
transforming himself into an angel of light ; 3 by 
whose signs and deceptions Apelles, 4 being led 
away, introduced a new heresy. 



CHAPTER VII * 

THESE are the doctrines of men and of daemons, 5 
generated for itching ears 6 by the ingenuity of 
that worldly wisdom which the Lord called foolish- 
ness, and chose the foolish things 7 of the world 
to confound even philosophy itself. For philo- 

1 Gal. i. 8. 

2 A virgin to whom Apelles attached himself, believing 
her to be inspired by an angel and endowed with miraculous 
powers. Her utterances were the source of several of his 
tenets, and he wrote a book of "Revelations" at her dicta- 
tion. See Chap. XXX, de carne Chr. 6. She seems to have 
been a clairvoyante. 

3 2 Cor. xi. 14. 

4 Apelles was the most famous of Marcion's disciples, born 
early in the second century. See note below on Chap. XXX. 

5 i Tim. iv. i. G 2 Tim. iv. 3. 
7 j Cor. i. 27; iii. 19. 



44 TERTULLIAN 

sophy is the theme of worldly wisdom, that rash 
interpreter of the Divine Nature and Order. And 
in fact, heresies are themselves equipped by philo- 
sophy. Thence come Valentinus' " aeons " and 
I know not what infinite "ideas" and "trinity of 
man." 1 He was a Platonist. Thence, too, the 
"better GOD" of Marcion, 2 so-called because of 
his tranquillity. He came from the Stoics. And 
when the soul is affirmed to perish, 3 that is a tenet 
taken from the Epicureans. And when the 
restoration of the flesh is denied, that is assumed 
from the uniform teaching of all the philosophers. 
And when matter is identified with GOD, that is the 
doctrine of Zeno. 4 And when any statement is 
made about a fiery god, 5 Heracleitus comes in. 
The same themes are pondered by heretics and 
philosophers : the same subjects of consideration 
are involved Whence came evil, and why ? and 
Whence came man, and how ? and a question 
lately propounded by Valentinus Whence came 
GOD? From Desire, 6 forsooth, and an Abortion. 

1 See below, Chap. XXXIII. 

2 The Supreme GOD of pure benevolence, in Marcion 's 
system; not the Creator, the "just" or "severe" GOD of 
the Old Testament. Cp. Justin Mart., Apol. I, 26. See 
below on Chap. XXX. 

3 The tenet of Marcion 's disciple Lucanus : de res. earn. 2. 

4 The eternity of matter was a tenet of Hermogenes : 
adv. Herm. 4. Zeno taught that the universe was the 
essential being of GOD : Diog. Lcert. VII, 148. 

5 Apelles' Creator and Old Testament Deity was a fiery 
god or angel, a notion derived from Exod. iii. 2. 

6 'Evev/j.T]ffis was the "Animatio" or "Desire" of the 
" Higher Sophia " in the Valentinian system, and being a 
formless abortion, e/crpcoMo, was driven forth from the 
Pleroma. From her was derived the Demiurge, or God 
of mankind. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 45 

Wretched Aristotle ! who established for them the 
dialectic art, so ingenious in the construction and 
refutation of propositions, so crafty in statements, 
so forced in hypotheses, so inflexible in arguments, 
so laborious in disputes, so damaging even to itself, 
always reconsidering everything, so that it never 
treats thoroughly of anything at all. 

Hence come those fables and endless gene- 
alogies, 1 and profitless questions, and words which 
spread like a cancer ; in restraining us from which 
the Apostle expressly mentions philosophy as that 
which we ought to beware of, writing to the 
Colossians, 2 "Take heed lest any one beguile you 
through philosophy or vain deceit, according to 
the tradition of men," beyond the providence of the 
Holy Spirit. The Apostle had been at Athens, 
and in his argumentative encounters there had 
become acquainted with that human wisdom which 
affects and corrupts the Truth, itself also being 
many times divided into its own heresies by the 
variety of its mutually antagonistic sects. 

What then hath Athens in common with 
Jerusalem ? What hath the Academy in common 
with the Church ? 3 What have heretics in common 
with Christians? Our principles are from the 
" Porch " of Solomon, 4 who himself handed down 
that the Lord must be sought in simplicity of 

1 i Tim. i. 4; Titus iii. 9; 2 Tim. ii. 17, 23. 

2 Col. ii. 8. 

3 Tertullian models his queries on those of St. Paul, 2 Cor. 
vi. 14 ff. On this attitude of the Karthaginian School, see 
the Introduction, p. viii. 

4 Solomon's Porch, i. e. the teaching of Christ and His 
Apostles : John x. 23 ; Acts iii. 2 ; v. 12. The implied 
contrast is to the Porch of Zeno. 



46 TERTULLIAN 

heart. 1 Away with those who bring forward a 
Stoic or Platonic or dialectic Christianity. We 
have no need of speculative inquiry after we have 
known Christ Jesus; nor of search for the Truth 
after we have received the Gospel. When we 
become believers, we have no desire to believe 
anything besides ; for the first article of our belief 
is that there is nothing besides which we ought to 
believe. 



CHAPTER VIII 

AND so I come to that sentence which our own 
members bring forward to justify speculative 
inquiry, and which heretics also urge as a reason 
for introducing restless hesitancy. It is written, 2 
they say, "Seek and ye shall find." 3 

Now let us call to mind when it was that the 
Lord uttered these words. It was surely at the very 
beginning of His teaching, when as yet all were 
in doubt whether He were the Christ; when as 
yet Peter had not pronounced Him to be the Son 
of Goo, 4 when even John had ceased to be certain 
about Him. 5 Rightly therefore at that time was the 
injunction given, "Seek and ye shall find," when 

1 Wisdom, i. i. 

2 On the abuse of this formula by heretics, see Vincent of 
Lerins' Common. XXVI, 69. 

3 Matt. vii. 7 ; Luke xi. 9. 

4 Matt. xvi. 14 ff. 

5 Matt. xi. 2; Luke xii. 18 ; the various patristic "inter- 
pretations of John the Baptist's question are collected in the 
Oxf. Litr. Fathers ad hoc. 



OF HERETICS 47 

as yet He had to be sought Who was not yet 
recognized. 1 

Besides, this saying was only for the Jews. For 
the whole purport of that admonition was directed 
to those who had in their possession the sources 
whence to seek the Christ. "They have Moses 
and Elias," 2 it says, that is, the Law and the 
Prophets which proclaim the Christ. Similarly in 
another place also expressly, "Search the Scrip- 
tures in which ye hope for salvation, for they 
speak of Me." 3 And this will be the meaning of 
"Seek and ye shall find." 

For it is plain that what follows is also pertinent 
to the Jews : " Knock and it shall be opened to 
you." The Jews had in times past been within 
the household of GOD; but afterwards, when 
rejected on account of their transgressions, they 
began to be apart from GOD. Whereas the nations 
were never within GOD'S household : they were 
nothing more than "a drop from a bucket and dust 
from a threshing-floor," 4 and were always outside 
the door. How then shall one who has ever been 
outside knock where he has never been ? What 
door is he acquainted with whereat he has never 
been either received or rejected ? Is it not rather 
one who knows that he has once been within and 
has been turned out, who knocks and recognizes the 
door ? 

1 In this interpretation of the words Tertullian deserts 
Clement of Alexandria, whom he elsewhere often follows 
(see an article by Noldechen in the Jahrb. f. protest. 
Theologie, XII, 279). Clement applies the injunction to 
urge the Christian's advance in knowledge : Strom. I, 51. 

2 Luke xvi. 29; an instance of careless quotation. 

3 John v. 39. 4 Isa. xl. 15 



48 TERTULLIAN 

Likewise, "Ask and ye shall receive" 1 is 
relevant to the case of one who is aware to Whom 
request must be made and by Whom something 
has been promised, namely, by the GOD of 
Abraham,. Isaac and Jacob, of Whose Person the 
nations had no more knowledge than they had 
of any promises of His. And therefore He said 
with reference to Israel, "I have not been sent but 
to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 2 Not 
yet had He cast the children's bread to the dogs; 
not yet was He bidding them to go into the way 
of the nations. 3 It was only at the last that He 
commanded them to go and teach and baptize the 
nations 4 when they were on the point of receiving 
the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, Who would guide 
them into all Truth. 5 This therefore also supports 
our interpretation. Moreover, if the Apostles, the 
destined teachers of the nations, were themselves 
about to receive the Paraclete as their teacher, the 
injunction, "Seek and ye shall find" was still less 
applicable to our case; for the doctrine was about 
to come to us without research through the Apostles 
as to the Apostles through the Holy Spirit. All 
the Lord's sayings, indeed, which have come to 
us through the ears of the Jews have been set down 
for all ; but many of them, addressed to particular 
classes of persons, only possess for us the character 
of example, not of injunction. 

1 John xvi. 24. Tertullian frequently confuses this verse 
with Matt. vii. 7, which he evidently meant to quote here. 

2 Matt. xv. 24. 3 Matt. x. 5. 

4 Matt, xxviii. 19. 5 John xvi. 13. 



\ 
ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 49 

CHAPTER IX 

Now I am going to grant you your point volun- 
tarily. I will admit, for the sake" of argument, that 
the words "Seek and ye shall find" were addressed 
to all. Yet even this view is bound to clash with 
any reasonable rule of interpretation. For no 
Divine word is so unqualified or so unlimited in 
its application that the words alone can be used 
in argument and their real purport be disregarded. 

But among first principles I lay this down : that 
there was a one and definite Truth taught by 
Christ, which the nations are bound .by every 
means to believe, and therefore to seek, so that 
when they have found it they may believe it. Yet 
surely an indefinite search for a single and definite 
teaching is impossible. Thou must seek until thou 
findest, and thou must believe when thou hast 
found. And then nothing more remains for thee 
to do, save to keep what thou hast believed pro- 
vided that thou believest also that there is nothing 
else to be believed, and therefore nothing remains 
to be sought for, since thou hast found and believed 
what was taught by Him Who bids thee seek for 
nothing beyond that which He taught. 

And if any one is in uncertainty what this is, 
it will be established that Christ's teaching is to be 
found with us. And for the moment, out of con- 
fidence in my proof, I anticipate it, and admonish 
certain persons that nothing must be sought 
beyond what they believe to be the proper objects 
of their search, lest they interpret "Seek and ye 
shall find " without strict regard to its real purport. 



50 TERTULLIAN 



CHAPTER X 

Now the true purport of this saying is to be 
found in three points in the matter, in the time, 
and in the limitation. In the matter, for thou 
must consider what is to be sought; in the time, 
when thou must seek it; and in the limitation, 
how long. It follows that that is to be sought 
which Christ taught, just so long as thou findest 
not, and until thou findest. But thou didst find 
when thou didst believe. For thou hadst not 
believed unless thou hadst found, just as thou 
wouldst not have sought except that thou mightest 
find. The very object of thy seeking was to find, 
and the result of thy finding was to believe. Any 
further extension of seeking and finding was put 
an end to by thy believing. The very issue of thy 
search brought about this restriction for thee. This 
limit has been fixed for thee by Him Himself Who 
wills thee neither to believe nor to seek anything 
beyond what He taught. 

If, however, we ought to seek in proportion as 
we are able to find, because so many varying 
doctrines have been taught by different persons, 
we shall be for ever seeking and never believing 
at all. For where will be the end of seeking? 
Where the resting-place of belief ? Where the ful- 
filment of finding? With Marcion ? 1 But Valen- 
tinus also enunciates "Seek and ye shall find." 
With Valentinus, then ? But Apelles too will attack 
me with this same injunction ; and Ebion 2 and 

1 See below, Chap. XXXIII. 

2 Tertullian evolved a person and a surname from the 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 51 

Simon * and all one after another who have ho 
other means of ingratiating themselves with me 
and winning me over to their party. And so I 
shall be nowhere ! whilst I am met on all sides with 
"Seek and ye shall find"; just as if I were 
nowhere as though I were one who had never 
apprehended what Christ taught, what ought to 
be sought, what ought to be believed. 



CHAPTER XI 

ONE may safely wander, if one does not go 
wrong; although, indeed, to wander is to go 
wrong; but I mean that he who deserts nothing 
may safely go astray. Yet surely if I believed 
what I ought to believe, and still think there is 
something else to be sought anew, hoping of course 
that there is something to be found, this hope is 
due to nothing else than either my never having 
believed really when I seemed to believe, or to my 
having ceased to believe. And so in deserting my 
faith I am found to be the denier of it. 

Let me say once for all : No one seeks save he 
who either has not possessed or has lost his posses- 
sion. The old woman 2 had lost one of her ten 
drachmas, and therefore she was seeking it; yet as 
soon as she found it she stopped her search. The 
neighbour 3 had no bread, and therefore he was 

self-assumed title, ' Ebionites " ("The Poor"), of a^sect who 
claimed to be the true representatives of those who had 
received the Lord's benediction : Luke vi. 20; cp. Matt. x. 3. 
See further in Chap. XXXIII. 

1 Simon Magus, Acts viii. 9 ff. ; see below, Chap. XXXTT1. 

2 Luke xv. 8. 3 Ib. xi. 5. 



52 TERTULLIAN 

knocking; yet as soon as the door was opened to, 
him and he received the bread, he ceased to knock. 
The widow l was asking to be heard by the judge, 
because she was not granted an audience; yet as 
soon as she was heard, she no longer persisted. 
There is therefore a limit to seeking and knocking 
and asking. "For to him that asketh it shall be 
given, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened, 
and by him that seeketh it shall be found." Away 
with the man who is ever seeking because he does 
not find ! for he is seeking in a place where he will 
not find. Away with the man who is ever knock- 
ing because it wall never be opened to him ! for 
he is knocking where no one is. Away with the 
man who is ever asking because he will never be 
heard ! for he is asking from one who does not 
hear. 



CHAPTER XII 

BUT even supposing that we ought to be seeking 
now and ever, where ought the search to be made ? 
Amongst the heretics, where everything is strange 
and antagonistic to our truth, and whom we are 
forbidden to approach ? What slave looks for his 
food from a stranger, let alone his master's enemy ? 
What soldier seeks to obtain largess and pay from 
unallied, let alone hostile, kings unless, indeed, 
he be a deserter or a runaway or a rebel ? Even 
the old^ woman spoken of was looking for the 
drachma within her own house ; even the man who 
knocked was thumping his neighbour's door ; even 

1 Luke xviii. 2 ff. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 53 

the widow was making her appeal, not to a hostile 
albeit a harsh judge. It is impossible for any one 
to receive instruction from the same quarter whence 
destruction comes; it is impossible for any one 
to be enlightened by that which darkens. Let us 
make our search, therefore, in our own and from 
our own and concerning our own ; provided only 
that nothing comes into question which attacks the 
Rule of Faith. 



J CHAPTER XIII 

Now the Rule of Faith l that we may here at 
this point make our profession of what we maintain 
is unquestionably that wherein our belief is 
affirmed that there is but ONE GOD, the Selfsame 
with the Creator of the world, Who produced all 
things out of nothing through His Word sent 
down in the beginning of all things; that this 
Word is called His Son, Who in the Name of 
GOD was seen under divers forms by the patriarchs, 
was ever heard in the prophets, and lastly was 
brought down by the Spirit and Power of GOD 
the Father into the Virgin Mary, became Flesh in 
her womb, and being born of her lived as Jesus 
Christ; that thereafter He proclaimed a new law 
and a new promise of the Kingdom of Heaven, 
wrought miracles, was crucified, and on the third 
day rose again, was caught up into the heavens, 
and sat down at the right hand of the Father; that 
He sent the Vicarious Power of the Holy Spirit 
to lead believers; that He will come with glory to 

1 See the Introduction, p. x. 



54 TERTULLIAN 

take the saints into the enjoyment of life eternal 
and of the heavenly promises, and to adjudge the 
wicked to fire perpetual, after the resurrection of 
both good and bad has taken place together with 
the restoration of their flesh. 1 

This Rule, taught (as it will be proved) by Christ, 
admits no questionings amongst us, save those 
which heresies introduce and which make heretics. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Now, provided that the form of this Rule be 
preserved in its own place, thou mayest seek and 
discuss as much as thou pleasest, and pour forth 
thy whole desire for curious inquiry if any point 
seem to thee to be undetermined through ambiguity 
or obscure from want of clearness. There is surely 
some brother, a doctor gifted with the grace of 
knowledge, some one amongst those well-skilled 
ones who are intimate with thee, and like thyself 
curious, who although like thyself a seeker will 
know that it is better for thee in the end to be 
ignorant, thus avoiding thy knowing what thou 
oughtest not, since thou already knowest what 
thou oughtest to know. "Thy faith," Christ said, 2 
"hath saved thee," not thy argumentative skill in 
the Scriptures. Faith is posited in a Rule : it hath 
a Law, and Salvation that cometh from the observ- 
ance of the Law. But argumentative skill depends 
upon curious inquiry, and possesses a fame derived 

1 Tertullian's materialistic views of the soul naturally led 
him to equally materialistic views of the resurrection body. 

2 Luke xviii. 42. 



55 

solely from zeal in practice. Let curiosity yield 
to faith, let fame give placebo salvation. At all 
events let them cease to be a hindrance, or let 
them be quiet. To know nothing contrary to the 
Rule is to know everything. Suppose that heretics 
were not the enemies of the Truth ; suppose that 
we were not forewarned to avoid them, yet what 
kind of an action would it be to unite with men 
who even themselves profess that they are still 
seeking? If they are still truly seeking, they have 
as yet found nothing certain, and therefore as long 
as they go on seeking they display their own hesita- 
tion about any tenets which they seem for the 
moment to hold. And so if thou who art similarly 
a seeker lookest to them who themselves are also 
seekers a man in doubt looking to others in doubt, 
a man in uncertainty to others in like plight blind 
thyself, thou art bound to be led by the blind into 
the ditch. 1 

But when for purposes of deceit they pretend to 
be still seeking, in order craftily to recommend their 
own views to us through an insinuation of dis- 
quietude, and having approached us immediately 
defend those points which they previously said 
needed investigation, we are at once bound to 
refute them so as to make them understand that 
we are not deniers of Christ but of themselves. 
For while they are still seeking they are not yet 
holding, and since they are not holding they have 
not yet believed, and since they have not yet 
believed they are not yet Christians. 

But, it may be objected, when they do really 
hold and believe, they affirm the necessity of seek- 

1 Matt. xv. 14. 



56 TERTULLIAN 

ing in order that they may be able to defend their 
belief. 

Then they actually deny it before they defend 
it, since whilst they are seeking they confess that 
they have not yet believed. How much more are 
they not Christians to us who are not even so to 
themselves. What kind of a faith do they argue 
for who arrive at it by deceit? To what truth 
do they lend their countenance who introduce it 
with a lie? 

But they themselves treat of the Scriptures and 
argue out of the Scriptures. Of course; for 
whence could they speak concerning the things 
of the Faith save out of the literature of the 
Faith? 



CHAPTER XV 

WE come, then, to our main point; for to this 
indeed we were steering, and for this we were 
laying the preparatory foundation in our preceding 
discourse. So that from this point onward we may 
contest the ground on which our opponents make 
their appeal. They make the Scriptures the ground 
of their plea, and by this audacious stroke of theirs 
immediately influence a certain number of persons. 
Moreover, in the encounter itself, they weary even 
the strong, they capture the weak, and the un- 
decided they send away anxious. We therefore 
make our strongest stand in maintaining that 
they are not to be admitted to any discussion 
of the Scriptures at all. If the Scriptures are to 
be their source of strength, then the question 



OF HERETICS 57 

as to who are the rightful possessors of the 
Scriptures must be gone into first, so as to prevent 
their use by one who has no manner of right to 
them. 



CHAPTER XVI 

I MIGHT be bringing forward this objection from 
a want of confidence, or from a wish to enter upon 
the case in dispute in a different manner from the 
heretics, were not a reason to be found at the outset 
in that our Faith owes obedience to the Apostle 
who forbids us to enter into questionings, or to 
lend our ears to novel sayings, or to associate with 
a heretic after one admonition x he does not say 
after discussion. Indeed, he forbade discussion by 
fixing on admonition as the reason for meeting a 
heretic. And he mentions this one admonition, 
because a heretic is not a Christian, and to prevent 
his appearing worthy of being, like a Christian, 2 
censured once and again in the presence of two 
or three witnesses; since he is to be censured for 
the same reason that he is not to be disputed with 
because argumentative contests about the Scrip- 
tures profit nothing, save of course to upset the 
stomach or tne brain. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THIS or that heresy rejects certain of the Scrip- 
tures, and those which it receives it perverts both 
1 i Tim. vi. 4; Titus Hi. 10. 2 Matt, xviii. 15. 



58 TERTULLIAN 

by additions and excisions to agree with its own 
teaching. For even when it receives them it does 
not receive them entire, and if it does in some 
cases receive them entire, it none the less perverts 
them by fabricating heterodox interpretations. 1 A 
spurious interpretation injures the Truth quite as 
much as a tampered text. Baseless presumptions 
naturally refuse to acknowledge the means of their 
own refutation. They rely on passages which they 
have fraudulently rearranged or received because 
of their obscurity. 2 What wilt thou effect, though 
thou art most skilled in the Scriptures, if what thou 
maintainest is rejected by the other side and what 
thou rejectest is maintained? Thou wilt indeed 
lose nothing save thy voice in the dispute ; and 
gain nothing save indignation at the blasphemy. 

1 Tertullian is here following Clement Alex. (Strom. 
VII, 16), and this, I think, determines his meaning. He is 
not referring to spurious scriptures, such as the Psalms of 
Valentinus or the Phaneroseis of Apelles, but to the genuine 
Scriptures, which some of the heretics mutilated or per- 
verted. Clement's words are : "Though it be true that the 
heretics also have the audacity to use the prophetic Scrip- 
tures, yet in the first place they do not use them all, and in 
the second place they do not use them in their entirety, nor 
as the general frame and tissue of the prophecy suggest; 
but picking out ambiguous phrases, they turn them to their 
own opinions, plucking a few scattered utterances, without 
considering what is intended by them, but perverting the 
bare letter as it stands. For in almost all the passages 
they employ you will find how they attend to the words 
alone, while they change the meaning, neither understand- 
ing them as they are spoken, nor even using in their natural 
sense such extracts as they adduce." On the dishonest 
neglect of the context of Scripture, see Vincent of Lerins' 
Comm, xxv. 64 f . ; Cyprian, de unit. eccl. n. 

2 The Marcionites mutilated, the rest explained them 
away ; Iren. Ill, 12. 12. 



OF HERETICS 59 



CHAPTER XVIII 

BUT the man for whose sake thou mayest have 
entered into an argument from the Scriptures in 
order to strengthen him when wavering, will he 
incline more to the Truth or to heresies? Influ- 
enced by the very fact that he sees thou hast 
effected nothing, since each side possesses equal 
vantage-ground in denial and assertion, and is 
without doubt in a like position, he will go away 
rendered still more uncertain by the discussion, 
and not knowing which he is to adjudge the heresy. 
For they themselves are naturally bound to retort 
these charges upon us. They must necessarily 
assert that the falsification of the Scriptures and 
lying interpretations have been introduced by us, 
because they equally maintain that the Truth is 
with them. 



CHAPTER XIX 

APPEAL, therefore, must not be made to the 
Scriptures, nor must the contest be carried on con- 
cerning points where victory is impossible or 
uncertain or too little uncertain. For even though 
the discussion from the Scriptures should not so 
result as to place each side in an equal position, 
the order of things would demand that this point 
should first be decided the point which alone now 
calls for discussion, namely : Who holds the Faith 
to which the Scriptures belong ? From whom and 
through whom, and when, and to whom was the 



J50 TERTULLIAN 

doctrinal teaching delivered whereby men are made 
Christians? For wheresoever it shall appear that 
the true Christian religion and faith exist, there 
will be found the true Scriptures and interpretations 
and all Christian traditions. 



CHAPTER XX 

CHRIST JESUS our Lord (may He allow me so 
to speak for the moment), Whoever He is, of 
whatever GOD the Son, of whatever substance Man 
and GOD, of whatever Faith the Teacher, of what- 
ever reward the Promiser, did, while he was living 
on earth, Himself declare what He was, what He 
had been, what was His Father's will which He 
carried out, what was the duty of man that He laid 
down, either openly to the people or privately to 
His disciples, out of the number of whom He 
had attached to Himself twelve special ones who 
were destined to be the teachers of the nations. 
Consequently, when one of them was struck off, 
He bade the eleven remaining ones to go and teach 
all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father 
and into the Son and into the Holy Spirit. 1 Imme- 
diately, therefore, the Apostles (whose title denotes 
their being sent), having added to their number 
by lot a twelfth, 2 Matthias, in the place of Judas, 
on the authority of a prophecy in a Psalm of 
David, 3 and having obtained the promised power 
of the Holy Spirit for miracles and for utterance, 

1 Matt, xxviii. 19 f. 2 Acts i. 20, 

3 Ps. cix. 8. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 61 

first throughout Judaea bore witness to the faith 
in Christ Jesus; and, having founded Churches, 
then went forth into the world and spread abroad 
the same doctrine of the same Faith to the nations. 
In like manner, too, they founded Churches in 
every city, from which the rest of the Churches 
hereafter have derived the transmission of their 
faith and the seeds of their doctrine, and are daily 
deriving them in order to become Churches. 
Thus these Churches themselves are also reckoned 
as Apostolic because they are the offspring of 
Apostolic Churches. Every kind of thing must 
necessarily be classed according to its origin. 
Consequently these Churches, numerous and im- 
portant as they are, form but the one Primitive 
Church founded by the Apostles, from which source 
they all derive. So that all are primitive and all 
are Apostolic; whilst that all are in one Unity is 
proved by the fellowship of peace and title of 
brotherhood and common pledge of amity 1 privi- 
leges which nothing governs but the one tradition 
of the selfsame Bond of Faith. 



CHAPTER XXI 

ON this ground, therefore, we rule our limita- 
tion that if the Lord Jesus Christ sent the Apostles 

1 Contesseratio hospitalitatis. The contesseratio was their 
unity of doctrine; see below, Chap. XXXVI, for the con- 
tesseratio between Rome and the African Churches. One 
practical outcome of this was the hospitable entertainment 
of ordinary laymen (who were provided by their bishop with 
Letters of Communion) by their Christian brethren in every 
part of the world : Sozom. V, 16. 



62 TERTULLIAN 

to preach, no others ought to be received as 
preachers save those whom Christ appointed ; since 
no other knoweth the Father save the Son, and 
He to whom the Son hath revealed Him. 1 Nor 
does the Son appear to have revealed Him to any 
but the Apostles whom He sent to preach surely 
only what He revealed to them. 

Now what they preached that is, what Christ 
revealed to them I rule ought to be proved by 
no other means than through the same Churches 
which the Apostles themselves founded by preach- 
ing to them viva voce, as men say, and afterwards 
by Epistles. If this is so, it follows accordingly 
that all doctrine which agrees with those Apostolic 
Churches and original founts of Faith must be 
reckoned for Truth, as preserving unquestionably 
that which the Churches received from the 
Apostles, and the Apostles from Christ, and Christ 
from God ; and, on the other hand, that all doctrine 
which savours contrary to the Truth of the 
Churches and of the Apostles of Christ and of 
GOD, must be condemned at once as having its 
origin in falsehood. It remains therefore for us 
to show whether this our doctrine the Rule of 
which we have set forth above is derived from the 
tradition of the Apostles ; and, as a deduction from 
this, whether the other doctrines come of falsehood. 

We are in communion with the Apostolic 
Churches, a privilege which no diverse doctrine 
enjoys. This is evidence of Truth. 

1 Matt. xi. 27. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 63 



CHAPTER XXII 

BUT inasmuch as the proof is so easy that were 
it immediately produced nothing would remain for 
consideration, let us for the moment, supposing 
we had no proof to produce, give place to our 
opponents to see if they think they can set aside 
this limitation. 

They are wont to say that the Apostles did not 
know alt things; driven to this by the same mad- 
ness which leads them to face about again and say 
that the Apostles did indeed know all things but 
did not deliver all things to all persons in either 
case exposing Christ to blame for sending out 
Apostles with either too little preparation or too 
little simplicity. 

But who in his senses can believe that those men 
were ignorant of anything, whom the Lord gave 
to be teachers, keeping them close to Himself in 
companionship, 1 in discipleship, in society ; to 
whom He was accustomed to explain privately 
whatever was obscure, 2 saying that it was granted 
to them to know hidden truths which the people 
were not permitted to understand ? 3 Was anything 
hidden from Peter who was called the Rock 4 of 

1 Mark iii. 14. 2 Ib. iv. 34. 

3 Matt. xiii. n. 

4 Ib. xvi. 18. Tertullian is not quite consistent in his 
interpretation of this passage. Here and de monog. 8 and 
de pud. 21 he makes St. Peter the rock, but adv. Marc. 
IV, 13 the rock is Christ. The patristic exegesis of this 
text often varied, even in the writings of the same father, 
as the point of view varied. In a somewhat similar way 
Christ is regarded by St. Paul sometimes as Himself the 



64 TERTULLIAN 

the Church which was to be built, who obtained 
the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the 
power of loosing and binding in Heaven and on 
earth ? Was anything hidden from John, the most 
beloved of the Lord, who lay on His breast, 1 to 
whom alone the Lord beforehand pointed out 
Judas the traitor, and whom He commended to 
Mary as a son in His own place ? 2 Who can main- 
tain that they were ignorant to whom He even 
manifested His own glory, and Moses and Elijah, 
and the voice of His Father from heaven ? 3 not as 
though He were rejecting the other Apostles, but 
because "by three witnesses shall every word be 
established." 4 Then too, they must be ignorant 
to whom after His Resurrection He deigned to 
expound all the Scriptures in the way. 5 

True enough He did once say, " I have yet many 
things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them 
now " ; 6 adding, however, "When He, the Spirit of 
Truth, shall have come, He will lead you into all 
Truth." He shewed that they who, according to 
His promise, should attain all Truth through the 
Spirit of Truth, would be ignorant of nothing. 

And surely He fulfilled His promise, for the 



"foundation" of the Church (i Cor. iii. n), and sometimes 
as the "corner stone," with the Apostles and Prophets as 
the foundation (Eph. ii. 20). See Lightfoot, Clem. Rom. 
II, 482. ff. 

1 Hence the title of the Apostle 6 eiriar^Qios : See Westcott on 
John xiii. 25. 

2 Ib. xix. 26. 

3 Matt. xvii. i ff. ; Mark ix. i ff. ; Luke ix. 28 ff. 

4 Deut. xix. 15; Matt, xviii. 16; 2 Cor. xiii. i. 

5 Luke xxiv. 32. 

6 John xvi. 13 f. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 65 

Acts of the Apostles prove the descent of the Holy 
Spirit. 1 And those who do not receive this Scrip- 
ture 2 are unable either to recognize that the Holy 
Spirit has yet been sent to the disciples, or to 
maintain that they themselves are the Church, 
since they cannot prove when or with what origin 
this body was founded. It is of vast importance 
to them not to produce the proofs of their position, 
lest simultaneously the exposure of their falsehoods 
should be obvious. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

FOR the purpose of scoffing at some ignorance 
in the Apostles, the heretics bring forward the 
point that Peter and his companions were blamed 
by Paul. " Something therefore," say they, "was 
lacking in them." They say this in order to build 
up that other contention of theirs, that a fuller 
knowledge might afterwards have come to them, 
such as came to Paul who blamed his predecessors. 

Now here I may say to those who reject the 
Acts of the Apostles: "The first thing for you to 
do is to shew who this Paul was both what he 
was before he was an Apostle, and how he became 
an Apostle " ; since at other times they make very 
great use of him in disputed matters. For though 
he himself declares that from a persecutor he 
became an Apostle, that statement is not sufficient 
for one who yields credence only after proof. For 
not even the Lord Himself bore witness concern- 

1 Acts ii. i ff. 

2 The Marcionites. For their other rejections and mutila- 
tions of the New Testament, see below, Chap. XXXVIII. 

E 



66 TERTULLIAN 

ing Himself. But let them believe without the 
Scriptures that they may believe against the Scrip- 
tures. Yet they must shew from the instance 
adduced of Peter being blamed by Paul that 
another form of Gospel was introduced by Paul 
beside that which Peter and the rest had previously 
put forth. Whereas the fact is, when changed 
from a persecutor into a preacher, he is led in to 
the brethren by brethren as one of themselves, and 
presented to them by those who had clothed them- 
selves with faith at the Apostles' hands. After- 
wards, as he himself relates, 1 he "went up to 
Jerusalem to see Peter," because of his office, and 
by right of course of an identical faith and preach- 
ing. For they would not have wondered at his 
having become a preacher from a persecutor if he 
had preached anything contrary to their teaching; 
nor would they have "glorified the Lord" if Paul 
had presented himself as His adversary. Accord- 
ingly they "gave him the right hand," 2 the sign 
of concord and agreement, and arranged among 
themselves a distribution of office, not a division 
of the Gospel, namely, that each should preach 
not a different message, but the same message to 
different persons, Peter to the Circumcision, Paul 
to the Gentiles. 

But if Peter was blamed because, after he had 
lived with Gentiles he separated himself from their 
companionship out of respect of persons, that 
surely was a fault of behaviour, not of preaching. 
For no question was therein involved of any other 
GOD than the Creator, 3 nor of any other Christ 

1 Gal. i. 18 ff. 2 Ib. ii. 9. 

3 Against Marcion. 



ON THE " PRESCRIPTION " OF HERETICS 67 

than He Who came from Mary, 1 nor of any other 
hope than the resurrection. 2 



CHAPTER XXIV 

I AM not good man enough, or rather I am not 
bad man enough, to pit Apostle against Apostle. 
But since these most perverse persons thrust for- 
ward that rebuke for the purpose of throwing 
suspicion upon the earlier teaching, 3 I will reply, 
as it were, for Peter, that Paul himself said 4 that he 
was made all things to all men to the Jews a 
Jew, and to non-Jews a non-Jew in order to gain 
all. And so in certain times, persons and cases 
they would blame actions which they themselves 
yet might equally perform in other times, persons 
and cases. Thus, for instance, Peter might like- 
wise have blamed Paul because, while forbidding 
circumcision, he himself had circumcised Timothy. 5 
Away with those who judge Apostles. Well is it 
that Peter is made equal to Paul in his martyrdom. 

But although Paul was caught up as far as 
the third heaven, and when brought into paradise 
heard certain things there, yet these revelations 
cannot be thought to be such as would render him 
more qualified to teach another doctrine, since their 
very nature was such that they could not be com- 
municated to any human being. 6 But if that 
unknown revelation did leak out and become 

1 Against Valentinus. See below, note on Chap. XXX. 

2 Against all Gnostics. 

3 That is, the teaching of St. Peter. 

4 i Cor. ix. 20 ff. 

3 Acts xvi. 3. 6 2 Cor. xii. 2 ff. 



68 TERTULLIAN 

known to some one, and if any heresy affirms that 
it is a follower of that revelation, then either Paul 
is guilty of having betrayed his secret, or some 
one else must be shewn to have been subsequently 
caught up into paradise to whom permission was 
given to speak out what Paul was not allowed to 
whisper. 



CHAPTER XXV 

BUT, as we have said, the same madness is seen 
when they allow indeed that the Apostles were not 
ignorant of anything nor preached different doc- 
trines, yet will have it that they did not reveal 
all things to all persons, but committed some 
things openly to all, and others secretly to a few ; 
basing this assertion on the fact that Paul used 
this expression to Timothy, "O Timothy, guard 
the deposit " ; l and again, " Keep the good 
deposit." 2 What was this "deposit" of so secret 
a nature as to be reckoned to belong to another 
doctrine ? Was it a part of that charge of which 
he says, "This charge I commit to thee, son 
Timothy " ? 3 And likewise of that commandment 
of which he says, "I charge thee before GOD Who 
quickeneth all things, and Jesus Christ Who 
witnessed before Pontius Pilate a good confession, 
that thou observe the commandment " ? 4 What 
commandment, now, and what charge ? From the 
context it may be gathered not that something is 
obscurely hinted at in this phrase concerning a 
more hidden doctrine, but rather that he was com- 

1 i Tim. vi. 20. 2 2 Tim. i. 14. 

3 i Tim. i. 18. 4 Ib. vi. 13 f. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 69 

manded not to admit anything beyond that which 
he had heard from Paul himself, openly too, I 
take it "before many witnesses" are his words. 1 
If by these many witnesses the heretics refuse to 
understand the Church, it matters not, since 
nothing could be kept secret which was being set 
forth before many witnesses. 

Nor, again, can his wish that Timothy should 
"commit these things to faithful men who would 
be fit to teach others also " 2 be explained as a proof 
of any hidden doctrine. For when he says "these 
things," he refers to things of which he was writing 
at the moment. In reference to hidden things, 
present only to their secret knowledge, he would, 
as of absent things, use the word "those," not 
"these." 



CHAPTER XXVI 

BUT nevertheless, it may be said, it was natural 
for the Apostle, when he committed to any one 
the administration of the Gospel, which was to be 
ministered neither indiscriminately nor rashly, to 
add the injunction in accordance with the Lord's 
saying that "a pearl should not be cast before 
swine nor that which is holy to the dogs." 3 

The Lord spake openly without any indication 
of some hidden mystery. Himself had commanded 
that what they had heard in darkness and in secret 
they were to preach in light and on the housetops. 4 
Himself had prefigured in a parable 5 that they 

1 2 Tim. ii. 2. 2 Ib. 3 Matt. vii. 6. 

4 lb. x. 27. -* Luke xix, 12 if. 



7O TERTULLIAN 

were not to keep even one pound, that is, one word 
of His, fruitless in a hidden place. Himself used 
to teach that a lamp is not wont to be thrust away 
under a measure, -but placed on a lampstand that 
it may give light to all that are in the house. 1 
These instructions the Apostles either neglected or 
by no means understood if they failed to fulfil 
them, and concealed any portion of the light, that 
is, of the Word of GOD and mystery of Christ. I 
am fully assured they had no fear of any one, 
neither of the violence of the Jews nor of the 
Gentiles : how much more, then, would these men 
preach freely in the Church who were not silent 
in synagogues and public places ! Nay, they 
could have converted neither Jews nor Gentiles 
unless they had set forth in order what they wished 
them to believe ! Much less w'ould they have 
kept back anything from Churches already believ- 
ing to commit it to a few other persons privately ! 
And even if they used to discuss some things in 
their private circles (so to speak), yet it is incredible 
that these things would be of such a nature as to 
introduce another Rule of Faith, different from and 
contrary to that which they were setting forth 
openly to all ; so that they should be speaking of 
one GOD in the Church and of another in their 
private houses; and describing one substance of 
Christ in public and another in private; and pro- 
claiming one hope of the resurrection before all 
and another before the few; at the time when 
they themselves were beseeching in their own 
Epistles that all would speak one and the same 
thing, 2 and that there should be no divisions and 

1 Matt. v. 15. 3 i Cor. i. 10, 



ON THE PRESCRIPTION OF HERETICS 7 1 

dissensions in the Church, because they them- 
selves, whether it were Paul or others, were 
preaching the same thing. Moreover they remem- 
bered, "Let your speech be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; 
for what is more than this is of evil " l : words 
spoken to prevent them from treating the Gospel 
in different ways. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

IF, then, it is incredible either that the Apostles 
were ignorant of the full scope of their message, 
or that they did not publish to all the whole plan 
of the Rule of Faith, let us see whether, perchance, 
whilst the Apostles indeed preached simply and 
fully, the Churches through their own fault 
received it otherwise than as the Apostles used to 
set it forth. All these incitements to hesitancy 
you will find thrust forward by heretics. 

They hold up instances of Churches reproved 
by the Apostle. "O foolish Galatians, who hath 
bewitched you ? " 2 and "Ye were running so well : 
who hath hindered you ? " 3 and at the very begin- 
ning of his letter, "I wonder that ye have been 
thus so soon removed from Him Who called you 
in grace to another Gospel." 4 Likewise the words 
written to the Corinthians because they were still 
"carnal," and had to be fed on milk, not yet being 
able to take meat ; who thought they knew some- 
thing when not yet did they know anything as 
they ought to know it. 5 

1 Matt. v. 27. 2 Gal. iii. i. 

5 Ib. v. 7. 4 Ib. i. 6. 

5 i Cor. iii. i f. ; viii. 2 ; xvi. 19. 



72 TERTULLIAN 

Now when they instance these reproved 
Churches let them be sure that they were corrected. 
Moreover, let them recognize those Churches for 
whose "faith and knowledge and manner of life" 
the Apostle "rejoices and gives thanks to GOD * : 
Churches which to-day unite with those reproved 
ones in the privileges of the selfsame instruction. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

BUT come now, suppose that all have erred : 
grant that the Apostle was deceived in bearing his 
testimony, and that the Holy Spirit regarded no 
Church so as to lead it into the Truth, although 
sent for this purpose by Christ, asked from the 
Father that He might be the Teacher of truth ; 2 
grant that the Steward of GOD and Vicar of Christ 
neglected His office and permitted Churches for 
a time to understand differently what He Himself 
was preaching through the Apostles; yet is it at 
all likely that so many and such important 
Churches should all have "erred" into one and 
the same faith ? No uniform issue results from 
many chances. Error* of doctrine on the part of 
the Churches was bound to have assumed various 
forms. But when one and the same tenet is found 
amongst many, that is not error, but tradition. 
Will any one then dare to affirm that the authors 
of the tradition were in error? 

1 Rom. i. 8; xv. 14; xvi. 19; Eph. i. 15; Phil. i. 3 ff. ; 
Col. i. 4 ff. ; i Thess. i. 3 ff. ; 2 Thess. i. 3 f, 

2 John xiv. 26, 



OF HERETICS 73 



CHAPTER XXIX 

HOWEVER the "error" came, it reigned for just 
so long, of course, as there were no heresies. 
Truth waited for the Marcionites and the Valen- 
tinians to set her free. In the meantime the 
Gospel was wrongly preached, men wrongly 
believed, so many countless thousands were 
wrongly baptized, so many works of faith were 
wrongly wrought, so many spiritual powers and 
gifts were wrongly put into operation, so many 
priesthoods, so many ministries were wrongly 
performed, so many martyrdoms werje wrongly 
crowned ! Or if not wrongly and uselessly, how 
can you characterize the fact that the things of 
GOD were running their course before it was 
known to which GOD they belonged? that there 
were Christians before Christ was found ? heresy 
before true doctrine? Unquestionably in every 
case Truth precedes its copy : the counterfeit 
comes afterwards. But it is absurd enough that 
heresy should be mistaken for the earlier teaching ; 
especially since it is that very earlier teaching 
which foretold that heresies would come and would 
have to be*guarded against. 1 To a Church pos- 
sessing this teaching it was written nay, the 
teaching itself writes to the Church : " Though an 
angel from heaven preach any other Gospel than 
that we have preached, let him be anathema." 2 

1 See references above, Chap. I. 2 Gal. i, 8, 



74 - TERTULLIAN 



CHAPTER XXX 

WHERE at that time was Marcion, the Pontic 
shipmaster, 1 the student of the Stoic philosophy? 
Where, then, was Valentinus, 2 the disciple of 
Platonism ? For it is agreed that they lived not 
so very long ago in the reign of Antoninus 3 for 
the most part, and that at first they were believers 
in the doctrine of the Catholic Church in Rome 
during the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, 4 
until, on account of their ever restless speculation 
whereby they corrupted the brethren also, they 
were expelled more than once Marcion, indeed, 
with the two hundred sesterces that he had brought 
into the Church and when at last banished into 

1 Marcion 's home was Sinope, of which city his father 
was bishop. His heresy was free from pagan elements, 
though he postulated two GODS one the Creator or severe 
GOD of the Old Testament, and the other a Supreme GOD 
of pure benevolence Who was unknown to man till revealed 
by Christ. He rejected the whole of the Old Testament, 
and accepted only ten Epistles of St. Paul and the Gospel 
of St. Luke, which he mutilated (see below, Chap. XXXIII). 
He was the author of Antitheses, or instances of antagonism 
between the Law and the Gospel. Tertullian combated his 
tenets in his Five Books against Marcion. 

2 Valentinus was an Alexandrian Platonist who settled in 
Rome about the year 140. He attempted to reconcile Chris- 
tian teaching with pagan philosophy, and elaborated an 
intricate system of aeons or emanations from infinity in 
order to bridge over the gulf between the infinite and the 
finite. He denied that the body of Christ was derived from 
the Virgin's substance. 

3 Antoninus, A.D. 138-161. 

4 Eleutherus, Bishop of Rome about 174-189; but the 
excommunication of Marcion and Valentinian took place 
earlier than this (in 145). 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION OF HERETICS 75 

perpetual separation from the faithful, they spread 
abroad the poisonous seeds of their peculiar 
doctrines. Afterwards, when Marcion had pro- 
fessed penitence and agreed to the condition 
imposed upon him, namely, that if he could bring 
back to the Church the residue whom he had 
instructed to their perdition, he should be received 
into communion, he was prevented by death. 

For indeed heresies must needs be. 1 Yet it does 
not follow that heresies are good because they are 
needful. As if evil also were not needful ! For it 
was even needful for the Lord to be betrayed; yet 
"Woe to the traitor" 2 to prevent any one from 
upholding heresies on this same ground of 
necessity. 

If we must examine also the pedigree of Apelles, 3 
he is not of such long standing as Marcion himself, 
who was his instructor and moulder, but by a 
carnal lapse he deserted the Marcionite chastity 
and withdrew from the presence of his most holy 
master to Alexandria. Returning thence after 
some years, in no way improved save that he was 
no longer a Marcionite, he fastened on another 
woman, that very virgin Philumena already men- 
tioned, 4 who afterwards herself also became a 

1 i Cor. xi. iy. 2 Matt. xxvi. 24; Mark xiv. 21. 

3 Apelles was the most famous of Marcion 's disciples; 
but he modified the extreme dualism of his teacher and 
wholly subordinated the world-Creator to the Supreme GOD. 
The charges of immorality brought against him, and like- 
wise against Philumena, were no doubt baseless slanders. 
No other writers refer to them, and they may easily have 
originated in the misunderstanding of some figurative 
phrase. See note, Chap. XLIV. Tertullian's treatise against 
Apelles is lost. 

4 See Chap. VI, where see note, 



?6 TERTULLIAN 

monstrous prostitute; and misled by her influence 
he wrote the "Revelations" which he learnt from 
her. 1 There are those living at this day who 
remember them, their own actual disciples and 
followers, so that they cannot deny their later date. 

Moreover, too, these men are condemned by their 
own works, as the Lord said. 2 For if Marcion 
separated the New Testament from the Old, he is of 
later date than that which he separated, since he 
could only separate what was united. Having been 
united then before it was separated, the fact that it 
was afterwards separated shows that the separator 
was later. 

Similarly Valentinus, by his various exposi- 
tions and unhesitating emendations, shows abso- 
lutely that what he emended as being previously 
faulty belonged to an earlier age. 

We name these men as being the more remark- 
able and assiduous corruptors of the Truth. But 
a certain Nigidius 3 and Hermogenes 4 and many 
others are still moving about perverting the ways 
of the Lord. Let them show me by what authority 
they have come forward. If they preach some 
other GOD, on what ground do they use the history 
and the writings and the names of that GOD against 
Whom they preach ? If the same GOD, why do 

1 It appears from Ps.-Tert., adv. hcer. 6, that Apelles 
ordered public lections to be read from this book of " Revela- 
tions " dictated by Philumena. 

2 Matt. vii. 16. 

3 Of Nigidius nothing is known. 

4 One of Tertullian's two treatises against Hermogenes 
is extant. Hermogenes was a Karthaginian artist, who 
held that God formed the world out of pre-existing (eternal) 
matter, 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION OF HERETICS 77 

they preach Him in a different way? Let them 
prove themselves to be new Apostles; let them 
say that Christ came down a second time, a second 
time taught, was a second time crucified, a second 
time dead, a second time raised. For so the 
Apostle has described Him as being wont to make 
Apostles, and to give them besides the power of 
showing the same signs that He Himself showed. 
I desire, therefore, that the miracles of these men 
be produced; save that I admit their greatest 
miracle is their inverted rivalry of the Apostles. 
For the latter used to make the dead alive, but 
these men make the living dead. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

LET me, however, return from this digression 
to discuss the priority of Truth and the lateness of 
falsehood, with the support of that parable 1 which 
places first the good seed of the wheat sown by the 
Lord, and afterwards brings in the corruption of 
the barren weed of the wild oats by His enemy 
the Devil. For properly this parable represents 
the difference of doctrines; since the Word of GOD 
is also in other places likened to seed. Thus from 
the very order itself it is made manifest that what 
was first delivered is from the Lord, and true; and 
on the other hand, that what was afterwards intro- 
duced is strange and false. This sentence will 
stand against all later heresies which possess no 
conscientious ground of confidence whereby to 
claim the truth for their own side. 

1 Matt. xiii. 37 ff. 



78 TERTULLIAN 



CHAPTER XXXII 

BUT if any heresies dare to plant themselves in 
Apostolic times, so as to be thought thereby to have 
been handed down by the Apostles because they 
existed under the Apostles, we can say : " Let them 
set forth the earliest beginnings of their Churches ; 
let them unfold the roll of their bishops coming 
down by succession from the beginning in such 
a manner that their first bishop had for his ordainer 
and predecessor one of the Apostles or of those 
Apostolic men who never deserted the Apostles." 

For in this way Apostolic Churches declare 
their origin : as, for instance, the Church of the 
Smyrnaeans records that Polycarp 1 was placed 
there by John ; and the Roman Church that 
Clement was ordained thereto by Peter. And 
exactly in the same way the rest of the Churches 
can produce persons who, ordained to the episco- 
pate by Apostles, became transmitters of the 
Apostolic seed. 

Let the heretics invent something of the same 
sort ; for what is unlawful for them after blas- 
phemy ? Yet even if they should invent such a 
thing, they will gain nothing by it. For their 
very doctrine, when compared with the Apostolic 
doctrine, will itself declare by its diverseness and 
contrariety that it had neither Apostle nor Apos- 
tolic man for its author : because as the Apostles 
would not have taught differently from each other, 

1 An account of St. Polycarp, and a translation of his 
Epistle, is published in this series of Early Church Classics. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION OF HERETICS 79 

so neither would Apostolic men have uttered 
things contrary to the Apostles, unless, those who 
learnt from the Apostles taught a different doctrine. 

According to this standard, consequently, they 
will be tested by those Churches which can pro- 
duce perhaps no Apostle or Apostolic man for 
their founder, since they are of much later founda- 
tion those, for instance, that are being daily 
founded. Yet since they agree in the same faith 
they are none the less accounted Apostolical by 
virtue of close kinship in doctrine. 

In this way let all heresies, when challenged by 
our Churches, according to each of these standards, 
prove how they imagine themselves to be Apos- 
tolical. But indeed they are not so; nor can they 
prove themselves to be. what they are not; nor are 
they received into communion and fellowship by 
Churches which are in any way Apostolical, seeing 
that they are in no way Apostolical because of 
their divergence in doctrine. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

I ADDUCE in addition to these arguments an 
examination of the doctrines themselves which 
were in existence in the time of the Apostles, and 
were by the same Apostles both pointed out and 
rejected. For thus, too, they will be more easily 
exposed when they are proved either to have 
existed already at that time, or to have derived 
their origin from those which did then exist. 



8O TERTULLIAN 

Paul, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, 
censures the deniers and doubters of the resurrec- 
tion. 1 This opinion is properly that of the 
Sadducees. 2 Marcion adopts a part of it, and 
Apelles, and Valentinus, and all others who 
impugn the resurrection of the flesh. 3 In writing 
to the Galatians 4 he rebukes the observers and 
defenders of circumcision and the Law. This is 
the heresy of Ebion. 5 When giving instructions 
to Timothy 6 he also brands with reproach those 
who forbid marriage. Marcion and his follower 
Apelles lay down this prohibition. In similar 
terms he refers to those who say that "the resur- 
rection is past already. 7 This the Valentinians 
assert concerning themselves. 8 Again, when he 
mentions "endless genealogies," 9 Valentinus is 
recognized, according to whom some ^Eon or 
other of a strange and shifting name produces 
Sense and Truth out of its own Grace ; and these 
in like manner generate from themselves Word 
and Life ; while these again produce Man and 
Church; from which first ogdoad of ^Eons come 
ten others, while twelve ^Eons besides with won- 



1 i Cor. xv. 12. 2 Matt. xxii. 23 ; Acts xxiii. 8. 

3 The resurrection of the flesh, or of the body, as taught 
in a crude and materialistic form by Tertullian and others, 
was rightly rejected by all Gnostics, but on wrong grounds, 
namely, their belief in the inherent malignity of matter. 

4 Gal. v. 2. 

5 The Ebionites were judaizers and psilanthropists ; see 
above on ch. x. (p. 50). 

6 i Tim. iv. 3. 7 2 Tim. ii. 18. 

8 The Valentinians and many of the Gnostics and Docetae 
admitted a spiritual resurrection in baptism. 

9 i Tim. i. 4. 



ON THE " PRESCRIPTION " OF HERETICS 8 1 

drous names make up the entire fiction of the 
Thirty. 1 

The same Apostle, when he upbraids those "in 
bondage to the elements," 2 points at some teach- 
ing of Hermogenes, who introduces Matter as 
unoriginated, and thereby makes it equal to GOD 
Who is unoriginate; and while thus making the 
mother of the elements a goddess, he may well be 
"in bandage" to her whom he compares to GOD. 

Moreover, John in the Apocalypse 3 is bidden to 
chastise those who "eat idol-sacrifices and commit 
fornication." Other Nicolaitans 4 exist at the 
present day : it is called the Gaian heresy. 5 Again, 
in his Epistle, 6 he especially calls those Antichrists 
who denied that "Christ has come in Flesh," 
and who did not regard Jesus as the Son of GOD. 
The former point Marcion maintained, the latter 
Ebion. The system also of Simonian sorcery, 
serving angels, was expressly reckoned among 
idolatries, and by the Apostle Peter condemned in 
the person of Simon himself. 7 

1 For an excellent account of the Valentinian system see 
the monograph of Dr. Lipsius in Smith's D. C. B. IV, 1076. 

2 Gal. iv. 9. 3 Rev. ii. 14. 

4 These heretics, named from Nicolas, one of the Seven* 
whose teaching they probably perverted, are denounced by 
early writers for their impurity, but nothing is certainly 
known about them beyond what is said in the Apocalypse. 

5 The name takes various forms in different writers (see 
D. C. B. I, 380), but the sect is generally known as the 
" Cainite," a branch of the Ophites. They worshipped the 
Serpent, regarded the Creator as an evil being, and reversed 
all the moral judgements of the Old Testament. 

6 i John iv. 13. 7 Acts viii. 9 IT. 



82 TERTULLIAN 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

THESE comprehend in my belief the classes of 
corrupt doctrines which we learn from the Apostles 
themselves existed in their days. And yet we do 
not find amid so many varieties of perverse teach- 
ing any school that occasioned a controversy con- 
cerning GOD as the Creator of all things. No one 
dared to conjecture a second GOD. Doubt was 
felt more readily about the Son than about the 
Father, until Marcion introduced, besides the 
Creator, another GOD, of goodness only ; and until 
Apelles fashioned some kind of glorious Angel l 
of the Higher GOD as the Creator and GOD of the 
Law and of Israel, affirming Him to be of fire; 
and until Valentinus scattered his v^ons and 
elaborated the fault of one ^Eon into the generation 
of GOD the Creator. 2 To these persons alone, and 
to these persons first, has the Truth respecting the 
Divine Nature been revealed. They obtained, we 
cannot doubt, greater privileges and fuller grace 
from the Devil, who in this way also wished 
emulously to rival GOD, and by poisonous doctrines 
to make (in opposition to the saying of the Lord) 
"the disciples above their Master." 3 

Let, therefore, any and every heresy select for 
itself the time (allowing that the time is important !) 
when it came into existence, so long as it is not of 
the Truth, and allowing, of course, that those which 
were not in existence in the Apostles' days cannot 
have existed then ! For if they had existed then 

1 See above, Chap. VII. 

2 The fall of Sophia from the Pleroma ; see note, Chap. 
VII. 

3 Matt. x. 24 ; Luke vi. 40. - 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 83 

they would have been named that they might 
also have been repressed. . 

If, then, the modern heresies are the same, only 
somewhat more elaborated, as those which existed 
in a simpler form in the Apostles' time, they derive 
their condemnation from this fact. Or, if some 
indeed then existed, but others which arose after- 
wards adopted certain opinions from them, these, 
by sharing in their teaching, must of necessity 
also share in their condemnation. The above- 
mentioned definition of later date also points the 
same way, whereby even though there should be 
no participation in condemned doctrines, they 
would be prejudged on the score of their age 
alone, being so much the more corrupt because 
unnamed even by the Apostles. 

CHAPTER XXXV 

ALL heresies have now been challenged by us 
according to these rules, and convicted; now let 
the heresies themselves whether they be later 
than or contemporaneous with the Apostles, pro- 
vided only they differ from Apostolic teaching : 
whether they be censured by them in general or 
specific terms, provided only they be forecon- 
demned dare to allege in reply any rules of this 
kind against our system of doctrine. For if they 
deny its truth they are bound to prove it to be 
heresy, convicted by the same standard whereby 
they themselves are convicted ; and they are bound, 
at the same time, to show where the Truth is to be 
sought, since it has been proved already not to be 
with them. 

Our system is not later, nay, it is earlier than 



84 TERTULLIAN 

all ; and this is an evidence of its truth, for truth 
everywhere holds the first place. It is nowhere 
condemned by Apostles, nay, it is maintained by 
them; and this is proof that it is their very own. 
For they make it quite clear that that doctrine 
which they refuse to condemn, whilst condemning 
each one foreign to it, is their own, and therefore 
they also uphold it. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

COME now, thou who wiliest to exercise thy 
curiosity to better purpose in the business of thy 
salvation : go through the Apostolic Churches 
where the very thrones of the Apostles at this very 
day preside over their own districts, where their 
own genuine letters are read which speak their 
words and bring the presence of each before our 
minds. If Achaia is nearest to thee, thou hast 
Corinth. If thou art not far from Macedonia, 
thou hast Philippi. If thou canst travel into Asia, 
thou hast Ephesus. Or if thou art near to Italy, 
thou hast Rome, where we too have an authority 
close at hand. 1 What a happy Church is that 
whereon the Apostles poured out their whole 
doctrine 2 together with their blood ; where Peter 
suffers a passion like his Lord's, 3 where Paul is 
crowned with the death of John, 4 whence John the 

1 The African Church was not founded by an Apostle, but 
from Italy : Rome was therefore its natural authority. 

2 i. e. without any reservations, such as the heretics 
asserted : Chap. XXV. 

3 Tertullian is the first to relate that St. Peter was 
crucified; Origen (apud Euseb. Ill, i) adds, "head down- 
wards." 

4 i. e. John the Baptist. 



ON THE ''PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 85 

Apostle, after being immersed in boiling oil and 
taking no hurt, 1 is banished to an island. Let us 
see what she hath learnt, what she hath taught, 
what bond of friendship she hath had with the 
African Churches. She acknowledges one GOD 
the Creator of the universe, and Christ Jesus the 
Son of GOD the Creator, born of the Virgin Mary, 
and she teaches the resurrection of the flesh. 2 She 
unites the Law and the Prophets with the Evangelic 
and Apostolic writings : out of these she causeth 
her faith to drink ; and that faith she sealeth with 
water, clotheth with the Holy Spirit, feedeth with 
the Eucharist, stimulateth with martyrdom, and 
receiveth no one who opposeth this teaching. 

This is that teaching from which heresies have 
gone forth to say nothing now of its prediction 
of the coming of heresies. But they were not "of 
it " 3 from the moment when they became opposed 
to it. Even from the kernel of the mellow, rich, 
and indispensable olive springs the rough oleaster; 
even from the seed of sweetest and most delicious 
fig arises the useless and deceptive wild fig. So 
also do heresies come of our stock, but are not of 
our kind. They spring from the seed of Truth, 
but, owing to their falsehood, are wild. 

1 Jerome tells the same story, Comm. in Matt. xx. 23. It 
comes from the Leucian Acts'. See Texts and Studies, V, 
144 ff. (Cambridge, 1897). 

2 The articles of the Creed specially singled out for men- 
tion here are those which were rejected by the Gnostics 
(Marcionites and Valentinians) the Unity of God, the real 
Incarnation by a virgin-birth, the resurrection of the flesh, 
and the unity of Holy Scripture. For a fuller statement of 
the North African Creed see above, Chap. XIII, de virg. v<?l. 
8; adv.' Prax. 2; Apol, 17, 21 ; and the Introduction, p. viii. 

3 Cp. i John i. 19. 



86 TERTULLIAN 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

IF, then, it be the case that the Truth must be 
adjudged to be with us "as many as walk accord- 
ing to this rule," l which the Church has handed 
down from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ, 
and Christ from GOD, then the principle that we 
laid down is established which determined that 
heretics be not allowed to enter an appeal drawn 
from the Scriptures, whom we prove, apart from 
the Scriptures, to have no part nor lot in them. 

For if they are heretics they cannot be Christians, 
because they receive the very name of heretics from 
that which they adopt of their own choice 2 and do 
not receive from Christ. Thus, not being Chris- 
tians, they have no right to the Christian literature, 
and it may well and justly be said to them : "Who 
are you? When and whence 'do you come? W T hat 
have you to do with us, not being of our party ? 
By what right do you, Marcion, cut my wood ? 
By what licence, Valentinus, do you divert my 
streams? By what power, Apelles, do you move 
my landmarks? This is my possession. What 
business have all the rest of you here, sowing and 
pasturing at your pleasure? It is my possession. 
I hold it of old. I am in possession first. I hold 
sure title-deeds from the first owners themselves of 
the estate. I am the heir of the Apostles. Just 
as they bequeathed it in their own will, just as 
they committed it to trust, just as they swore to 
it, so do I hold it. You they have ever ex- 
pressly disinherited and disowned as outsiders, as 



1 Gal. vi. 16. 2 See above note, Chap. VI. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 87 

Now on what grounds are heretics outsiders and 
enemies to the Apostles save from divergence in 
doctrine, which each one of his own mere will 
hath either brought forward or received in opposi- 
tion to the Apostles ? 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

THE corruption of the Scriptures and of their 
interpretation must therefore be referred to that 
quarter where divergence in doctrine is to be 
found. Those who proposed to put forth a different 
teaching were obliged thereby to alter the doctrinal 
documents. For they would not have been able 
to teach differently unless they had altered the 
sources of teaching. Just as with them corruption 
of doctrine could not have succeeded without a 
corresponding corruption of its documents, so also 
with us integrity of doctrine would not be met 
with save with the integrity of those documents 
whence the doctrine is drawn. 

For, indeed, what is there opposed to us in our 
Scriptures ? What have we introduced of our 
own so that we must remedy by omission or 
addition or alteration anything contrary to it which 
we have found in the Scripture? What we are, 
that the Scriptures are from the very beginning. 
Of them are we, before there was any divergent 
teaching before they were interpolated by you. 
But since every interpolation must be regarded as 
later in time (since it arises essentially from 
hostility, which is in every case neither prior in time 
to, nor of the same household with that which it 
opposes), it is as incredible to any one of sense 
that we should be thought to have introduced a 



88 TERTULLIAN 

corrupt text into the Scriptures we who have 
existed from the beginning and are the first in 
order of time as that those persons should not 
be thought to have introduced it who are both 
later in date than, and opposed to the Scriptures. 
One man falsifies the Scriptures with his hand: 
another by his interpretation of their meaning. 
For although Valentinus appears to use the whole 
volume, he nevertheless laid violent hands on the 
Truth with a no less cunning bent of mind than 
did Marcion. 1 Marcion openly and nakedly used 
the knife, not the pen, since he cut the Scriptures 
to suit his argument; whereas Valentinus spared 
them, since he did not invent Scriptures to suit 
his argument, but argument to suit the Scriptures; 2 
and yet all the same he took away more and 
added more in taking away the proper meaning 
of each particular word, and in adding arrange- 
ments of systems which have no existence. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

THESE were the inventions of "spiritual wicked- 
nesses" 3 with which we must rightly look "to 
wrestle," brethren, as being necessary to faith, that 
the "elect may be made manifest" 4 and the repro- 
bate detected'. Therefore they possess a power 
and a skill in inventing and constructing errors 
which is not to be greatly wondered at as if it 
were difficult and inexplicable, seeing that a like 
example is ready to hand in the case of secular 

1 Marcion *s alterations are detailed in Lardner, Hist, of 
Heretics, X, 35 ff. ; Valentinus' in Irenaeus, I, i, 15 ff. 

2 Occasionally Valentinus did "invent" Scripture to suit 
his theme : see my note in hoc loc. 

3 Eph. vi. 12. 4 j c 01 - e x j e ,y t 



ON THE " PRESCRIPTION " OF HERETICS 89 

writings also. Thou seest in our day a totally 
different story composed out of Vergil, the matter 
being adapted to the verses and the verses to the 
matter. Hosidius Geta, 1 for instance, has very 
fully extracted from Vergil the tragedy of Medea. 
A near relative of my own from the same poet has 
amongst other literary trifles arranged the "Table " 
of Cebes. 2 Moreover, " Homerocentones " is the 
common name for those who from the poems of 
Homer patch together into one piece, quilt-like, 
works of their own, out of many scraps put 
together from this passage and that. Unquestion- 
ably the Divine writings are more fruitful in 
affording resources for any kind of subject. Nor 
do I hesitate to say that the Scriptures themselves 
were arranged by the will of GOD in such a manner 
as to afford material for heretics, inasmuch as I 
read that there must be heresies, 3 which cannot 
exist without the Scriptures. 



CHAPTER XL 

THE question will follow, Who interprets the 
meaning of those passages which make for 
heresies ? The Devil, we cannot doubt ; for it is 
his character to overturn the Truth who emulously 
rivals the very realities of the Divine sacraments in 
the idol-mysteries. For he too baptizes certain 
persons his own believers and faithful ones ; he 
promises a putting away of sins by means of the 

1 Nothing- is known of this writer beyond this isolated 
notice of him. 

2 See Dr. Rcndel Harris in The Expositor, May 1901. 

3 T Cor. xi. 19, 



QO TERTULLIAN 

cv 

laver; and if my memory still serves me, Mithras 1 
seals there on their foreheads his own soldiers. 
He celebrates, too, an oblation of bread, and intro- 
duces a representation of the resurrection, and 
purchases a crown under the sword. Why, he 
even allows but a single marriage to the chief 
priest. 2 So, too, he has his virgins and his con- 
tinent ones. 3 Moreover, if we consider the 
religious enactments of Numa Pompilius, 4 if we 
think of his priestly duties and badges and privi- 
leges, the sacrificial services and the instruments 
and vessels of the sacrifices themselves, and the 
fantastic niceties of his expiations and vows, is it 
not obvious that the Devil has imitated the scrupu- 
lous observances of the Jewish Law ? He, then, 
who has in such a spirit of hostile rivalry aimed 
at setting forth in the functions of idolatry the very 
means wherewith the sacraments of Christ are 
administered, is unquestionably the same being 
who exulted in the same kind of ingenuity, and 
has been able to adapt to a profane and hostile 
faith the actual documents concerning Divine 
matters written by Christian saints, adapting 
interpretations from interpretations, words from 
words, parables from parables. 

No one therefore ought to doubt either that 
"spiritual wickednesses " 5 from whence come 
heresies have been sent forth by the Devil, or that 

1 For an account of the Mithraic rites see King, Gnostics 
and their Remains, pp. 122 ff., and McCormack's English 
translation of Cumont, Textes et Monuments Figures relates 
aux Mysteres de Mithra (Kegan Paul). 

2 Cp. i Tim. iii. 2 ; Titus i. 6. 

3 The two terms are distinct. Continence is used of self- 
control in and after marriage (ad uxor. I, 6), and is con- 
trasted with virginity (de virg. vol. 10; adv. Marc. V, 15). 

4 See Livy, I, 18 ff, 5 Eph. vi. 12. 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION OF HERETICS 91 

heresies are not far removed from idolatry, since 
they belong to the same author and handiwork as 
idolatry. They either fashion another GOD hostile 
to the Creator, or if they confess One only Creator 
they treat of Him otherwise than as He truly is. 
Consequently every falsehood which they utter 
about God is in a certain sense a kind of idolatry. 



CHAPTER XLI 

I MUST not omit a description, too, of the heretics' 
actual manner of life, how foolish it is, how earthly, 
how materialistic, without seriousness, without 
authority, without discipline as beseems their 
peculiar faith. 

In the first place, it is uncertain who is a cate- 
chumen and who a baptized believer ; they all alike 
reproach, they all alike hear, and all alike pray * 
even heathens, if any should have chanced to enter. 
They will "throw that which is holy to dogs, 2 and 
pearls" (albeit false ones) "to swine." They will 
have it that their subversion of discipline is 
simplicity, and call our care for discipline affecta- 
tion. They unite in communion also with every 
one from every quarter. For it is of no import- 

1 Marcion, on the strength of Gal. vi. 6, admitted the 
catechumens and the baptized to the same prayers in public 
worship (Jerome, Comm. in loc.). Tertullian's words seem 
td*imply that there were different classes of catechumens in 
the North African Church. 

2 Matt. vii. 6. For a very early application of this text 
to the Holy Eucharist, see Didacht, 9: "Let none eat or 
drink of your Eucharist save they that are baptized into 
the Name of the Lord; for as touching this the Lord hath 
said, Give not that which is holy to the dogs." See also 
Clem. Alex., Strom. II, 2, 7; and note the early use of 
"Sancta Sanctis " in the Liturgies. 



Q2 TERTULLIAN 

ance to them, although they are teaching different 
doctrines, so long as they agree in an attack upon 
the One Truth. They are all puffed up; they all 
promise knowledge. Their catechumens are per- 
fected before they are instructed. The very women 
amongst the heretics, how precocious they are ! 
They presume to teach, to dispute, to practise 
exorcism, to promise cures, perchance also to 
baptize ! Their ordinations are heedless, capri- 
cious, fickle. Now they appoint novices, 1 now 
men hampered by worldly ties, now apostates from 
us, so as to bind them by ambition since they 
cannot by truth. Nowhere is preferment readier 
than in the camp of rebels, where the simple fact 
of being there is itself a merit. Consequently one 
man is bishop to-day, another to-morrow. To-day 
he is a deacon who to-morrow will be a reader ; 2 
to-day he is a presbyter who will to-morrow be a 
laic. For even on laics do they impose sacerdotal 
functions ! 



CHAPTER XLII 

BUT what shall I say about their ministry of the 
word, seeing that they make it their business not 
to convert the heathen, but to subvert our people ? 
This is the glory that they covet most to effect 
the fall of those who stand, not the upraising of 
those who are thrown down. And since their very 
work consists not in any building of their own, 

1 i Tim. iii. 6. 

2 This is the first mention of the Order of Readers, the 
oldest of the minor orders, and early adopted by heretics : 
see Bright's note on Chalcedonian Council, Canon XIV ; and 
for Egyptian Readers see Journal of Theological Studies, 
H. 255- 



ON THE "PRESCRIPTION" OF HERETICS 93 

but in the destruction of the Truth, they undermine 
our defences that they may build up their own. 
Deprive them of the Law of Moses and the 
Prophets and God the Creator, and they have not 
a complaint to utter. Thus they more readily 
effect the ruin of standing edifices than the recon- 
struction of fallen ruins. To this end alone their 
behaviour is humble .and bland and respectful. 
Otherwise not even for their own leaders have they 
any reverence. This explains the fact that schisms 
do not commonly exist among heretics, since when 
they do exist they are not visible. For schism is 
their very unity. 

I am mistaken if they do not even among them- 
selves depart from their own rules; whilst each 
one adapts what he receives according to his own 
fancy, just in the same way as he who handed it 
down fabricated it according to his fancy. The 
nature of heresy and the manner of its origin are 
revealed by its subsequent career. The same 
course was obviously allowable to the Valentinians 
as to Valentinus, to the Marcionites as to Marcion, 
of changing the faith according to their own fancy. 
Indeed, when thoroughly looked into, all heresies 
are found to depart in many particulars from their 
own founders. Nor have the majority of them any 
churches : motherless, homeless, creedless, out- 
casts, they wander in their own worthlessness. 1 



CHAPTER XLIII 

INFAMOUS, moreover, is the heretics' intercourse 
with numberless magicians, with jugglers, with 

1 The text is uncertain : it may mean "they wander far, 
themselves their all." 



94 TERTULLIAN 

astrologers, with philosophers men unquestion- 
ably given over to restless speculation. "Seek 
and ye shall find " l is their never-forgotten maxim. 
The quality of their faith may thus be estimated 
precisely from the nature of their conduct. Their 
system of life is the index of their doctrine. They 
deny that GOD is to be feared. Consequently all 
things are to them open and without restraint. 
But where is GOD not feared save where His 
Presence is wanting ? And where GOD is not, 
neither is there any Truth. And where there is 
no Truth there naturally follows such a system of 
life as theirs. Whereas where GOD is, there also 
is fear towards GOD, which is "the beginning of 
wisdom." 2 And where there is fear towards GOD, 
there is a becoming gravity, and awestruck dili- 
gence, and anxious solicitude, and well-assured 
election, and well-considered communion, and well- 
deserved preferment, and religious submissiveness, 
and loyal attendance, and modest procedure, and a 
united Church, and all things godly. 



CHAPTER XLIV 

SIMILARLY these proofs of a stricter discipline 
amongst us are an additional evidence of truth ; 
and to disregard this is not becoming in any one 
who is mindful of the future Judgement, when "we 
must all stand before the Judgement seat of 
Christ," 3 giving an account in the first place of 
our faith itself. What, then, will they say who 
have defiled with the adultery of heresy that 

1 See above, Chap. VIII. 

2 Ps. cxi. 10 ; Prov. ix. 10. 3 2 Cor. v. 10. 



ON THE " PRESCRIPTION " OF HERETICS 95 

virgin l committed to them by Christ? They will 
allege, I suppose, that nothing was ever foretold 
them by Him or by His Apostles about strange 
and perverse doctrines destined to come, and that 
no command was given them about avoiding and 
abhorring them. Christ and His Apostles will 
own that the fault was rather their own and their 
followers', who did not prepare us beforehand. 
They will add, besides, much about the authority 
of each heretical leader, how they specially con- 
firmed the belief in their own teaching how they 
raised the dead, restored the sick, foretold the future 
so that they might deservedly be believed to be 
Apostles ! Just as though it were never written 2 
that many should come working the greatest 
miracles in defence of the deceitfulness of their 
corrupt teaching. 

Consequently they will deserve forgiveness. But 
suppose some have stood firm in the integrity of 
the Faith, mindful of the writings and denuncia- 
tions of the Lord and His Apostles, these, I sup- 
pose, will be in danger of losing their forgiveness 
when the Lord replies 3 : "I had certainly fore- 
warned you that there would be teachers of error 
in My Name and in that of the Prophets and 
Apostles too; and I had commanded My disciples 
to teach the same to you with the idea, of course, 
that you would not believe it. I had given the 
Gospel once for all, and the teaching of the same 

1 Cp. 2 Cor. xi. 2. It was probably the misunderstanding 
of some figurative phrase like this (taken from Hegesippus, 
apud Euseb. Ill, 32; IV, 22) that led to the false scandals 
respecting the moral character of several of the Gnostic 
teachers. 

2 The audacious irony of this passage can hardly be 
matched even in the writings of Tertullian himself. 

3 Matt. xxiv. 24. 



96 TERTULLIAN 

Rule to My Apostles, but it pleased Me afterwards 
to alter some points therein. I had promised a 
resurrection, even of the flesh ; but I reconsidered 
it, lest I might not be able to fulfil it. I had 
declared Myself to have been born of a Virgin ; 
but afterwards this seemed disgraceful to Me. I 
had said that My Father was He Who makes the 
sunshine and the rain ; but another and a better 
Father 1 has adopted Me. I had forbidden you to 
lend your ears to heretics ; but I made a mistake." 
Such are the blasphemies capable of being enter- 
tained by those who wander from the right path, 
and do not guard against those dangers whereby 
the true Faith is imperilled. 



CHAPTER XLV 

HAVING in view the present circumstances, we 
have argued on general grounds against all 
heresies that they ought by fixed, just and neces- 
sary limitations to be disallowed any discussion 
of the Scriptures. At some future time, if the 
grace of GOD permit, we will also furnish special 
replies to some particular heresies. 2 

To those who read these words at leisure, in 
belief of the Truth, be peace and the grace of our 
GOD Jesus Christ for ever. 

1 The higher GOD of Marcion who sent Christ to reveal 
Him, or the summus Deus of Basilides. 

2 Tertullian wrote subsequently against Marcion, Praxeas, 
Valentinus, Hermogenes and Apelles. 



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Christian Worship. Its Origin and Evolution. A Study of the Latin 
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Christ's Workers among all conditions of men. By Mrs, T, R. 
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Eminent Christian Workers of the Nineteenth Century. By. G. 
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Noble Womanhood. A series of Biographical Sketches. By G, 
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Whitgift and His Times, Archbishop. By the Rev. H. J. CLAYTON, 
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Christian Missions in the Far East. Addresses by the Right Rev. 
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Launching Out into the Deep ; or, the Pioneers o! a Noble Effort. 
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Light of Melanesia, The. A Record of Thirty-five Years' Mission 
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Pastoral Work in the Colonies and the Mission Field. By the late 
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" Without Prejudice : " or, The Case for Foreign Missions Simply 
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DEVOTIONAL READING. 

Called to be Saints : The Minor Festivals devotionally Studied 
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Christian Year, The. Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and 
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Face of the Deep, The. A Devotional Commentary on the 
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Imitation of Christ, Of the. By THOMAS A KEMPIS. Small post 
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"In the Day of Trouble." By the Very Rev, C. T, OVENDEN, 
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Life as Service. Some Chapters on being Christianly Useful. By 
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Moments with the Saints. Compiled by the Rev. G. Y. WOODWARD. 
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Rhythm of Bernard de Morlaix, The. Monk of Cluny, on the 
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Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and Holy Dying. By JEREMY 
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